Nordic noir and ghostly apparitions combine in this unique offering from director Óskar Þór Axelsson. Ég man þig (I remember you) is the film adaptation of a book by celebrated Icelandic author Yrsa Siguðardóttir.
See Also: Icelandic Literature for Beginners
The plot starts with the discovery of an elderly woman’s apparent suicide. Freyr (Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson) is a doctor who is assisting the police in their investigation of some of the peculiar elements involving her death; most notably, some crosses that were carved into her back.
Freyr is also in the depths of grief, his son disappeared years ago during a simple game of hide and seek.
The scene then jumps to a parallel story involving a married couple, Garðar (Þór Kristjánsson) and Katrín (Anna Gunndís Guðmunsdóttir), and their friend Líf (Ágústa Eva Erlendsdóttir). The three are renovating an abandoned house in a remote area of Iceland’s Westfjords, in the hopes that they can turn it into a profitable B&B.
Find out more about cinema in Iceland here.
The story follows some of the slow burn elements typical of Nordic noir but with a supernatural twist.
Freyr begins investigating a connection between the elderly woman and a young boy who disappeared years ago. Both he and the three renovators in the Westfjords begin experiencing supernatural visions which ultimately leads their stories to intersect in an unexpected way.
Ég man þig is not a typical horror film as it doesn’t really rely on jump scares or monsters to define the tension for the audience. Instead, it’s the pressing mood and lingering questions over where the story is going to lead that provide the impetus for leaning forward in your seat.
The coldness of losing a child in Freyr’s case, or the wrought emotion of repairing a damaged relationship, for Garðar and Katrín, are interestingly juxtaposed against a backdrop of the idyllic Icelandic countryside.
The Westfjords are a beautiful place. If you want to see them for yourself, check out this 8-day self-drive tour.
A place filled with landscapes worthy of postcards and travel blogs is seemingly transformed into a haunting and cold environment filled with dark memories and desperate spirits.
Iceland’s reaction to the film was all too familiar when it comes to ‘book to movie’ adaptations. Some loved it, some strongly claim the book was better.
This film is worth seeing because although it is placed in the horror category, it’s almost impossible to categorize. It’s a drama, a thriller, a Nordic noir and a ghost story, just make sure you have a clear head when you watch it so you’re able to connect the dots and understand the ending.
Ég man þig (I remember you) will screen on BBC4 in the UK, Saturday, March 23 at 9 pm. It’s also available on iTunes, Netflix and other streaming services.
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