Rather one-note in its bleakness, and doesn't have a vast amount to say beyond 'reform school sucks'.
| Original Score: 3/5
Possibly no one else does "grim" with as much unsparing enthusiasm as the Scandinavians.
| Original Score: 3/4
Skarsgard is riveting throughout as a man whose high morality is steeped in hypocrisy and whose mask of civility easily slips, when challenged, to reveal the monster beneath.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
[An] austere and occasionally stirring yarn.
The film plays well, and is involving, but in one form or another, this is a story often told.
"King of Devil's Island" is surprisingly effective, and affecting, given the familiarity of its material.
As the stone-faced and venal governor, Skarsgard is excellent. So is Helstad as Erling, the film's strong, if tragic hero.
Holst gives the proceedings a fresh look, thanks to sturdy acting, direction and cinematography.
Moody atmospherics enhance the conventional structure, and Holst's solid storytelling balances the heavy-handed symbolism.
Its refusal to adopt a single point of view may be conceptually ambitious, but it keeps the drama unfocussed, and slightly off balance.
| Original Score: 2.5/5
Imagine a Cool Hand Luke that swaps out star-vehicle pleasures for gray Scandinavian suffering, and you'd have something like Marius Holst's prison drama set in 1915 Norway.
A brooding, evocative Norwegian juvie-hell drama set in 1915...
Watchable if not entirely engrossing, this classically lensed tale about the misuse of power offers sweeping panoramas, stunning snowy landscapes, stock character types and a creakily generic narrative.