The Northman

The Northman ★★★★

Robert Eggers Conan the Barbarian is just as gnarly as you'd expect. A viking tale of frost-bitten revenge where our protagonist is continuously caked in mud, drool, and sweat. Feral mode unleashed. Hell yeah.

Although there is that disconnect. The feeling like the studio heads perched on top of Eggers shoulder and breathed down his neck to restrain things here, polish things there. In Eggers mind, this is an impressionistic and deeply violent genre film sculpted out of Bergman's austerity and Peckinpah's bombast. What we got instead veers occasionally on "straight guy camp" but is just so beautifully epic and effectively disturbing that I'll happily swallow this mead.

Alexander Skarsgard and Anya Taylor-Joy are fierce performers here, committing 666% to this macho nightmare. Score by Robin Carolan and Vessel also doesn't hurt, a credit I admittedly jumped out of my skin when I caught in the beginning (getting contemporary electronic artists to compose terrifying scores is one of the juiciest tropes of elevated horror, praise thee!)
The film itself is absolutely gorgeous to look at, presenting such vast and evocative imagery with widescreen angst and pummeling detail.

I think there's a better movie stuck in Eggers mind but he still hasn't fumbled as a filmmaker quite yet. The Lighthouse remains my favourite work of his and according to him it's the truest representation of what is brewing inside of that gothic skull of his. Still, despite the mainstream sensibilities threatening to derail this gnarly vision, it's quite a blast and manages to come up as a blistering banger worth repeat viewings.

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