Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre

I showed this room to Leonardo Dicaprio when he came to Iceland!

Year Released : 2009

Director : Julius Kemp

Cast : Pihla Viitala, Helgi Björnsson, Terrance Anderson, Miranda Hennessy, Stefán Jónsson, Gunnar Hansen, Aymen Hamdouchi, Nae Yuuki and Guðrún Gísladóttir

What a name for a film! How often do you want to watch a movie based purely on the name alone? That was the case when I was browsing through the horror channel a few months ago and I knew that the day would come to review it.

I must also say that it is fairly refreshing to see a horror from a relatively new nation as I’ve never seen a Icelandic made movie as far as I am aware. That being said, that doesn’t guarantee anything, for all I know it could be exactly like the vast majority of other films I’ve seen that involve a large body count.

We’ll see.

Plot

Several tourists in Iceland board a boat to go whale watching and everything seems pretty normal at first, but shortly after departing a drunk passenger, Jean Francois (Hamdouchi), climbs the rigging and a harpoon falls, impaling the captain (Hansen). Let just floating due to none of the passengers know how to sail, Endo (Yuuki) finds a flare and this attracts a small boat maned by Tryggvi (Björnsson). Instead of being taken to the nearest habour, the passengers are instead transported to a larger ship under the guise of a big storm coming.

On board they are greeted by a group of three, one of which is a man by the name of Siggi (Jónsson) and he  quickly starts killing various passengers. Endo comes up with the idea and a kamikaze bomb and her mother severely burns the mother (Gísladóttir) of one of the group, but she soon takes the only escape boat for herself, although Jean Francois was hiding on there all along.

How many of the rest of the group can survive?

A decent first experience of Icelandic horror?

It is always difficult to judge any film or particular type of movie just from a single entry, but that being said if the whole Icelandic horror film industry is like this then I will be generally avoiding it in future. “RWWD” (it’s too long to type out fully each time) isn’t necessarily a bad film, but it definitely leaves a lot of wide open issues.

The main issue for me is that you never really find out why the three killers are doing what they’re doing. You sort of get Siggi’s religious motivations, but as he is quite clearly mentally handicapped it could be for any old reason that he is doing it, and for me an antagonist is only as good as their backstory allows them to be, and I simply didn’t care as the film went on. I felt no overwhelming need to finish the film and that’s never a go od film, but captivating antagonists would have helped.

Then again, any interesting characters would have been welcomed. It’s blatantly obvious that most are there simply for a body count, mainly due to the fact that half of the characters aren’t given names on screen and barely any dialogue. Even those that are given names and dialogues aren’t developed that well and I find myself yet again saying that body counts aren’t effective if you’re given no reason to want the victims to survive. It’s completely unengaging.

That being said, there are some great shots, such as when one of the Japanese tourists is trying to escape by jumping into the sea, only to then be harpooned down. You see his desperate attempts to swim away as the harpoon approaches him and whilst you know it is ultimately going to get him,

Summary

“RWWM” isn’t an awful film, but it certainly isn’t god and the lack of any real characters worth connecting with certainly doesn’t help that matter. I always struggle with horror films when I’m given no reason to want the characters to survive their ordeal.

Many people will have never seen Icelandic films before, myself included, and whilst it is something that I will consider delving into again in the future, I think a lot will be put off by this.

Meh.

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