The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
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All Critics (5)
| Top Critics (3)
| Fresh (5)
| Rotten (0)
Compellingly creepy, I Remember You should well please the many fans of the genre.
The genre's a little twisted, but the film should still appeal to fans of books about moody detectives, doggedly pursuing justice against a frosty backdrop.
Transcends genre pyrotechnics even as it incorporates elements of Nordic noir.
Like many Scandi-thrillers, it's a slow burn, but a satisfying one, and I Remember You will linger in the mind long after, like flickering shadows on an icy landscape.
It's entertaining enough, but certainly didn't have me reaching for a jumper.
Iceland has always been one of those places that has been on my bucket list to visit. Maybe part of it has to do with the fact that I love Sigur Ros and, owning a Sigur Ros documentary/live DVD where the band performed in various unusual places in the country made me fall in love with it. It's not the typical type of beauty, like some find in Greece, Italy or Paris. Iceland isn't one of THOSE countries, but I've always found its desolation hauntingly beautiful. This is a country with only 338,000 in its population and, in fact, sheep and lamb (at a population of 800,000) obviously outnumber the country's citizens by more than two times. It's also come out, doing some actual research for this review, that 2.3 million tourists will visit Iceland. The tourists that visit Iceland this year will outnumber the locals seven to one. So, really, you could say that the country isn't as desolate as one might imagine. But, once again, I fell in love with its breathtaking and, as mentioned, hauntingly beautiful landscapes. Regardless, with that said, I really wish we got more Icelandic movies released on this side of the world. Maybe there's some arthouse streaming service that has some of these movies from this lovely country, but I do not have the money to spare right now. As much as I love Netflix and Prime, I also do hate the proliferation of streaming services which only end up dividing their costumer bases. I know that, if a lot of these streaming services keep their stuff in-house that they stand to reap more of the profits when compared if they were to partner up with Netflix, Amazon or Hulu, but I just wish there was some sort of law that forced these companies to go through the three aforementioned services. We're not made of fucking money, you know. Moving on, however, I don't really know how to feel about this movie. While it's definitely got some horror elements, I don't really know if I would actually feel comfortable calling this a full-on horror movie. I think a lot what the movie does could be classified more as mystery/suspense, since the movie is Freyr trying to figure out how his son, who vanished three years ago, is related to the series of murders of senior citizens that all went to the same school and bullied this other kid, who went missing SIXTY years befor the film's events. You also have these three urbanites who are renovating this rundown house, where Bernodus (the kid that disappeared sixty years ago) died, and how they all fit into this narrative and mystery. But, no, if you're expecting a full-on horror movie, I'm afraid you're just barking up the wrong tree. One of the things that I really did like about this movie, and it's actually something incredibly simple, is the explanation for why Bernodus' ghost is now killing the people that bullied him when he was a kid and how it fits into the search for Freyr's missing son, who's surely dead (the movie makes this perfectly clear early on, there's no actual mystery). The reason this clairvoyant, who is also (mysteriously) a lawyer gives is the same that it is in almost every other culture. The ghosts need help crossing to the over side for one reason or another. Maybe they died and were never found. The longer they go without their bodies being found, the angrier and more bitter they become. This leads to them manifesting themselves in negative ways for those that either the ghost cared for or if they're people that led to them dying. It's such a simple explanation for why these ghosts are manifesting themselves, but it's one that works so much better than you might think. Because, once you think about it, it does make some sense given the context of the movie and it's something that you could, quite literally, apply to any other of these types of movies. Like I said, it's a small little detail, but it really helps drive home the fact that Freyr should probably hurry in finding his missing son's corpse or else Benni, his son, will suffer the same as Bernodus and become a vengeful ghost. Having said that, there are parts of the movie that I found legitimately uninteresting. Like the whole subplot with the Lif, Gerdar and Katrin (the latter two being married) didn't do much for me. While their input is essential in the overall arc, their love triangle didn't interest me much. And I felt that that it took away from Katrin's visions of Bernodus and how Bernodus, perhaps because of Katrin being the first person to find him in sixty years, feels the need to protect her from Lif and Gardar by killing them. Like I said, they are an essential part of the mystery and finding Benni's corpse, but I wasn't really that intrigued by their little subplot. I'm not saying it was terrible, but it just didn't blow me away. The fact also is that this just feels like a police procedural, even though the police aren't a major part of the movie. I've never been that big on police procedurals, I just feel like it's tired and cliched. Not saying that there can't be great examples of this genre, but it's not something I tend to gravitate towards, it just doesn't interest me. Like hospital dramas. The point I'm making is that I feel like the movie follows similar beats and it's not exciting to watch in the slightest. The only thing that helps spice things up is the Icelandic setting, which is very appropriate for this type of movie. The acting is solid and I did very much enjoy the fact that, again, it's a foregone conclusion, very early on, that Freyr's son is dead, as he had diabetes and he had an insulin shot the very day he disappeared. If he didn't eat shortly after that, his body would go in shock and then he'd die. Which, inevitably, is what happened. The problem I have with this though is how Benni and Bernodus fit together. One of Bernodus' potential victims, a woman in her 70s, says that Benni woke Bernodus. But it's not made exactly clear how Benni ended up in the septic tank that his body was eventually found in. It's a little confusing, because I don't know if Bernodus was responsible for this or if Benni himself got himself stuck in the septic tank. It doesn't make a lot of sense and the movie doesn't bother trying to explain this. The ending itself is very haunting, however, in that you see Benni's ghost walking away from the house, finally free, while Bernodus and Katrin's (who ends up dying) ghost end up looking forlornly at the fact that their bodies, technically speaking, have not been found yet. Bernodus' was found for a short while by Katrin, Lif and Gardar, but since these three all end up dead, it's as if nobody had discovered it and they're right back to square one. It's quite the effective ending, I just wish that the movie that preceded it was a better one. It's not bad and, much like The Classified File, it falls somewhere between the rating of 2.5 and 3 stars, but its flaws are obvious and I can't ignore them. It feels too much like a boring police procedural that's spiced up slightly by its beautiful setting, the love triangle subplot was dull and uninteresting and there's some confusing moments in the narrative that the film fails to explain. If it wasn't for that, I would have no problem giving this 3 stars, but I can't. I'm certain others will like this more than I did, but I felt that it just fell a bit short.
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