Movie Review: When Animals Dream

When Animals Dream poster
Opening at theaters and on VOD on the 28th August – @lcfremont reviews…

Director: Jonas Alexander Arnby

Writer: Rasmus Birch

Stars: Sonia SuhlLars MikkelsenSonja Richter

Let’s just get this out of the way right now. When Animals Dream is nothing like Ginger Snaps and I say that with a heart full of love. From director Jonas Alexander Arby comes the tale of Marie. A sixteen year old who lives on a small island with her father as they both help take care of her ill mother, Marie is beginning to experience physical changes and the island is experiencing suspicious deaths.

When Animals Dream image

A coming of age story set in the horror world can easily go off the rails, but thankfully, this is not the case here. Arby’s feature length debut is a jewel box of art direction, cinematography and a perfectly executed pace. Sonia Suhl steps into the role of Marie with a quiet and heartbreaking intensity. She has a lot of responsibility on her young shoulders all while her body is experiencing inexplicable rashes and hair growth. Her father and doctor seem to know exactly what is going on with her, but don’t want to let her in on the secret. As with all small towns, everyone knows the family secret and after Marie is let in on it as well, she embraces it. An “illness” passed on from her mother, Marie decides not to let the townsfolk inform how she is allowed to live her life. She didn’t choose this disease and she’s not going to let it control her. This rebellious streak is encouraged and praised by both her father and her boyfriend Daniel.

When Animals Dream image

The film feels like a dream and this only makes the love story between Marie and Daniel that much more compelling and lovely. The dialogue is sparse and that works to the story’s advantage and overall aura simply because so much can be said with a look or a gesture, especially when your physical self is becoming more and more animalistic with each passing day. The way they choose to show Marie’s transformation is simple and brilliant: a little bit menacing, a little bit sexy and a little bit sad. A huge fan of “less is more”, I found When Animals Dream to be a great example that effective storytelling is all you really need and this can be executed in so many ways. Arby’s choice was very visual and, yet, he lost nothing in the translation. To be presented with a thought provoking coming of age tale, a deliciously sweet love story and a strong female lead was just a wonderful, wonderful surprise.

Lisa Fremont
Twitter: @lcfremont
Images courtesy of MPRM Communications

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