The Northman

The Northman ★★★★½

If you would ask me what would be the top 10 weirdest films I've ever watched, and I watched over 1900 at this point, than don't be surprised if I would include Robert Eggers' The Northman in that list. It's unapologetically strange, and although it's clear that the director of The VVitch and The lighthouse had a larger budget to work with here, that doesn't quite mean he's getting mainstream, as The northman doesn't offer any blockbuster-like spectacle and instead depicts a violent Viking world in which ruthless betrayal and harrowing bloodshed are as common as mythological crows and otherworldly prophecies. Eggers outdid himself in terms of visual storytelling here. Its immersive atmospherical quality is largely due to the strong, often symbolic imagery in which hints of the terrors to come can be found everywhere. It's foreshadowing done to meticulous precision, which makes for a sometimes puzzling yet always compelling journey untill the end. Drenched in surrealism and pitch black darkness, the intensity hardly lets go throughout its runtime. Hardly, which doesn't mean never. A few scenes in the second half could have been cut a little because they didn't contribute much to the totality of neither the experience nor the story and that distracted a little from its main focus. I feel that some scenes with the slaves could have been shorter. But that's also when Anya Taylor Joy's role really starts to live and the addition of her character and how that relates to our leading man Amleth is a worthy addition to the story, which allows the viewer to get some much needed time to breath, as she's source to romance and depth on a more intimate level. I say "much needed" because it really quite is. It's a brief escape from the overwhelming intensity of its bleakness, its horrifyingly vengeful nature and its ferocious fights and horrors. There is something deeply primal about all this, which is heightened by the fierce performances. It sometimes balances on the edge of absurdism and it finds a dark sense of humour out of the most unlikely places which often get strangely sexual, but unlike in The lighthouse, that aspect is a lot more in the background here. It's much more a mythic horror movie than anything else and those who expect a Game of Thrones-like spectacle will most likely end up disappointed. This is still Robert Eggers, the man behind one of the most bizarre horror pictures of recent times and once again goes full on bonkers here, having created a film unlike anything I've seen before.

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