The Whore

HORAWhy filmmaker Reinert Kiil (great name, btw; it could also double as his wrestling handle) went out of his way to pixelate cigarette and grocery logos, but not a MacBook, is a mystery. Also puzzling, why The Whore (Norwegian title, Hora) isn’t more highly-regarded, at least by all the IMDb grumblers.

Sure, it’s structurally similar to that “vile bag of garbage” I Spit on Your Grave (that remark made by the notoriously difficult Roger Ebert). But The Whore throws in some occasionally effective supernatural elements + art-house sensibility to make for a final product that, while not altogether new, is still engrossing (not to mention pretty gross).

The appetizer plate is the rural / urban divide. The setting: a house in Dokka, a tiny village not far from the Olympic town of Lillehammer. It’s the kind of place where everyone knows everyone else’s business. And like the excellent German horror, Antibodies, law enforcement out in these parts is a part time commitment.

Rikke, a young married woman, is ostensibly out in the wilderness looking for peace and quiet to become the next Ibsen or something (it’s implied she’s working out marital issues, but that doesn’t seem to be her main MO for the trip). When there are power issues in her abode, she calls on the local electrician, a tall slender creep who went to school with her as a child and still harbors an unhealthy obsession. He makes sexual overtures toward her and is rebuffed.

Back in the safe confines of her home, Rikke gazes pensively into the distance and toward the camera, adroitly blowing concentric circles of cigarette smoke.

On her way back from running errands in town, a solitary cyclist figure is blocking the road, a blonde who remains motionless straddling her ride perpendicular to the highway. It’s an eerie scene to be sure, but Rikke doesn’t even get out of her vehicle to further investigate. Maybe she just chalks it up to bad performance art.

In The Whore’s main course: the electrician and two of his degenerate buddies (one of whom is a slow-witted Mr Bean type – the local gas station attendant, Ronny) ratchet up their harassment of the woman, including leaving a bloodied squirrel on her doorstep.

hora_filmFinally, they attack her in her home, an assault as unrelenting and harrowing as The Last House on the Left, carving the film’s title into her forehead with a utility knife.

Using a seemingly arbitrary mix of Super 8 film (a la Sinister), black and white and nausea-inducing handheld, Reinert Kiil does a lot with a small budget. And the way the camera lingers over Rikke’s body, in the shower, on the sofa, down her top while she rides with the top down…definitely heightens the discomfort and asks questions of the viewer.

***1/2 (out of 5)

[Thanks to Wild Eye Releasing for providing a copy of the film]

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