The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
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All Critics (11)
| Top Critics (3)
| Fresh (6)
| Rotten (5)
It's too wordy by half, saying what it should be showing -- which is ironic, given helmer Aleksander L. Nordaas' able hand, early on, with unspoken, unseen horrors.
Odd hybrid doesn't make the most of its folkloric premise.
Soon the wealth of exposition is accompanied by the appearance of hoofed CG wilderness she-beasts devoid of any terrifying personality.
There's none of the usual horror over-emphasis here - it's just observational, matter of fact, and thereby much creepier.
the unexpected is precisely what is delivered by this low-budget, high-ambition rewriting of local ancient folklore in a modern idiom.
Hokey CGI; if the budget wasn't enough to make the effects good enough, they should have been left out entirely.
Ultimately all wind-up -- a work that dances around a couple moods and genres without ever really wholeheartedly committing to one in particular.
When it tries to do something different and dangerous, Thale succeeds. When it goes for the heart, or the hero moment, it winds up being more miss than hit.
Solid work from writer/director Aleksander Nordaas, who shapes a beguiling monster movie without ever truly indulging the tropes that often accompany the chaos.
There is a great deal of humour in the story; the message that 'man is the real savage' is not fresh but it's well played by the director and his leading men.
Thale packs a lot of character and atmosphere into a short running time, making for an entertaining closed-space thriller.
This is a good monster movie without ever relying on any of the old, tired monster movie cliches. It's far more observational about how, and this IS is a cliched theme, man is the real monster. That theme is a little tired by now, but I think it works in the context of this film and the story it is trying to tell. It is, after all, everything that Thale had to go through as a consequence of being separated from her family at such a young age and the experiments performed by uncaring scientists searching for an answer to Thale's powers. She goes through this even after she's 'saved' by one of the people that used to perform these experiments on her that just couldn't sit there and watch Thale being poked and prodded. He took her to this underground basement, where he proceeded to perform experiments on, though theoretically not as extreme as the ones she suffered while with the scientists. The film is, really, almost all exposition as recorded cassette tapes reveal the scientist's methods for dealing with Thale and how he's grown attached to her, even if he's doing things that he finds wrong. In many ways this film is about fatherhood and everything that entails. Because Thale and Elvis, much like the scientist and Thale, develop a relationship that is reminiscent of a father-daughter. At first I thought Elvis was going to make it weird by hitting on Thale, but all he wanted to do was protect her and keep her from, at first her parents, who weren't really dangerous, and afterwards the scientists that have been trying to trace Thale through her tail, which emits a kind of signal that's unique to her, sort of like her fingerprint. I did like that part of the film, it's certainly a little more thoughtful than your typical monster film. I think a problem with the film is, however, that it does have some identity issues. Doesn't know if it wants to be a fairy tale-esque story or a horror film. I think there was a way to combine both seamlessly, but this film didn't really achieve it. And the special effects, while minimal, are really atrocious. I think they could've gotten away with not showing the monsters, just show bits of it here and there. Let me see it running in the background, let me see it from a first-person view, but showing it up-close shows the very obvious budgetary limitations the film had. You'd still essentially have the same movie, just try to not show the monsters head-on. That way there's that kind of mystery as to what they looked like. I don't think it'd be cheap, since the film wasn't really about that, it was showing you the monsters inside of us. Still, this is a solid movie after all. Don't let the low-budget look throw you off, this is an interesting, and low-key, film. It definitely works well. Flaws here and there, some that couldn't have been avoided due to the budget, but overall this is an enjoyable movie.
Interesting idea that sadly runs out of steam too quickly.
Alexsander Nordaas has got the mystery going in Thale.
The film itself only runs an hour and 15 minutes, and considering a bulk of the film consists of 3 characters in a shed, that would seem pretty appropriate. The story does hold a lot of interest, although the pacing tends to be a bit slow and the plot details not as fulfilling as the film concept.
The fantasy element is held to a minimum on screen. The CG isn't the greatest, but it's not the worst either. It's probably for the best that it's used conservatively.
Silje Reinamo is quite the attractive lure on screen. She has absolutely no dialogue to deliver, but with all her screen time and for what she is asked to do, she gets it done. Erlend Nevold and Jon Sigve Skard provide the dialogue as two clean up crew members that end up on a job that revolves around folklore.
For a low budget mysterious fantasy out of Norway, Thale is worth the check out.
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