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Appellate Judge Mac McEntire • Location: Shrewsbury, MA
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PSIFF Day Four: Cecilie
January 20th, 2007 11:04PM

There’s been a lot of talk in recent years how countries like Korea and Mexico have been experiencing a “new wave” of filmmaking by producing a lot of exciting movies in recent years. While all that’s been going on, the Scandinavian countries have been quietly experiencing a “new wave” of their own, with a number of cutting edge films coming out of the lands of snow and blondes. The Palm Springs International Film Festival this year features a whole series of new Scandinavian flicks, so I knew I had to check one out. My geekishness won out over my film criticness, however, so I gravitated toward a supernatural thriller rather than a highbrow relationship drama. But when the supernatural thriller in question is Cecilie, there’s no problem.

Cecilie (Sonja Richter) is a young married woman ready to get back into her teaching career after a long leave of absence. All seems well at first, but she starts having strange nightmares and visions that are disrupting her job and her marriage. It’s then revealed that this isn’t the first time, and that Cecilie has had these frightening visions before. Driven to learn the meaning behind her nightmares, with the help of a think-outside-the-box psychiatrist, Cecilie now has to unravel clues to a murder that happened years ago, so history does not repeat itself.

Although Cecilie doesn’t add a lot to the horror genre, it certainly does a lot of things right. There was one shot early on that had me groaning because of how reminiscent it was of The Ring. I was all, “Great, I flew all the way to Palm Springs just to sit through yet another J-horror rip-off.” Sure enough, the look of the film is that sort of grayish-blue color seen in so many recent fright flicks, and it benefits more from a dark and gloomy atmosphere than it does from gore or monsters. But, as I kept watching, I became more and more engrossed in the storyline, I cared about the characters, and I really felt the suspense as the plot raced toward its climax at the end.

That’s what’s so great about Cecilie: it might use the conventions of the horror genre, but it tells its own story. So, although it’s familiar, it’s not a blatant rip-off or retread of what has gone on before--which, sadly, is what we keep getting from Hollywood. Cecilie is a real crowd pleaser. It has creepy nightmares, an interesting and well-thought-out mystery to be solved, and even some sexiness to satisfy the lowest common denominator. It might not be anything new--this is the type of plot they do every week on Medium--but it’s a satisfying spookfest with a great story. Check it out if you’re able to.

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