Saturday, February 21, 2015

When Animals Dream

There's a long history of feminist werewolf stories and it's easy to see why: Aside from the terror of big, nasty dogs the horror of the werewolf lies in a loss of control over one's own body. When Animals Dream gets great of mileage out of this subtext. Before the protagonist, Marie, has even begun to wolf out she's subjected to an intrusive doctor's examination and the unwanted attentions of a local boy.

By the time she's asserting pride in her werewolf identity by refusing to shave the film is not only underlining its feminist subtext but also giving it an additional queer resonance. At this point in the film the townsfolk are fairly certain of what she is but have been prepared to tolerate her, provided she doesn't claim her identity in public.

When Animals Dream also gets great mileage out of the bright Scandinavian light, particularly in indoor scenes were it is often used to create images like this one: in which Marie's similarly "afflicted" mother is highlighted in the background.

It's somewhat disappointing then that a beautiful horror film that is so effectively about horrors (as opposed to fear) relies on a undercooked love story and builds to familiar and, as a result, anticlimactic conclusion. But I suppose it's fitting that a film about a werewolf doesn't have the best control over where it wakes up.

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