Psalm 21 (UK - DVD R2)
Marcus is haunted by Japanese ghosts in Sweden. Is there no escaping them?
Finding out his father has died, town priest Henrik (Jonas Malmsjö) rushes out in the middle of the night to get to his deceased father's town. After having a shocking vision of running down one of his congregation and his car breaking down, Henrik finds himself staying with some of his father’s fold and his ghostly visions increase, especially when he finds out that his death was not a straight forward drowning.
This Swedish spin on such Japanese movies as The Ring or The Grudge was made all the more watchable due to Jonas Malmsjö’s lead performance. He has so much going on under the surface here, with his mannerisms and slowly building fears that he really drew me in to this pretty straight forward religious ghostly scarer. His interactions with other characters (all of who are pretty odd in their own rights) had multiple layers and I really enjoyed seeing his character try to act normal in amongst those around him while always knowing his over friendly persona is forced to try and fit in or to try and keep his inner turmoil under control.
Beyond that, this is all pretty typical stuff, though it does have a hell of a mood. The white faced, blackened eyed, wide mouthed spooky visions are straight out of what we’ve grown to expect from ghost horror since the Japanese planted their flag on the genre and there are more than a fair share of straight rip offs to boot. Quick flashes of wide mouthed dead bodies, ghostly whisperings from spirits with no respect for personal space and of course the creepy standing still moments, with a creepy frozen stare to give us the willies. All of this was effectively used, though I have to say not all that scary due to the familiarity—though the religious backdrop, as always, adds an extra level of the creeps. So really, this one comes down to how much Henrik’s character held the whole thing together and his responses to his ever maddening situation and for me it’s that performance that keep me locked in.
Despite the odd soft spot, Psalm 21 is a great looking DVD. Deep blacks, very natural skin tones and an overall clean transfer all add up to a good viewing experience. I wouldn’t say detail was all that impressive, not beyond the digital effects in the ghost elements anyway but generally speaking the lighting used in both interior and exterior scenes add an effective cold creepiness to the mood and both the daylight and darker scenes are all presented well within the transfer.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is out to make you feel uncomfortable and for the most part it achieves its goal. The early church scenes capture the echoes of a church sermon and Henrik’s late night trek through the woods after his car breaks down is full of overbearing creaking trees, ominous wind and the repetitive crunch of footsteps. On top of that dialogue is strong and central in the track and when the ghosts do their thing the sound spreading across the front speakers is very effective.
The only extra is a short ‘VFX Breakdown’ (03:55) reel of the movies ghostly images and the odd enhancement to scenery.
Psalm 21 is a pretty typical affair but has some great performances from its cast especially its lead Jonas Malmsjö, who makes this so much more ominous and without him the movie could have fallen flat. The transfer is strong in its simplicity and the audio is effective in all the right places so really it’s only the lack of extras that's letting the disc down.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 30th May 2011
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Swedish, Dolby Digital 2.0 Swedish
Extras: VFX Breakdown
Easter Egg: No
Director: Fredrik Hiller
Cast: Jonas Malmsjö, Niklas Falk, Björn Bengtsson
Genre: Drama, Horror and Mystery
Length: 94 minutes
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