Alice In Predictable-Land
Post apocalyptic fiction continues to be one of those never-ending pots of inspiration for authors and filmmakers alike. Whether it be the bleak, unforgiving nature of The Road or the action-packed Mad Max, there’s seemingly no end to the number of titles released every year.
With this in mind, Cadaver already has a tough mountain to climb in order to stand out from the crowd. Clocking in at 80 minutes or so, this Norwegian horror does its best but ultimately falls way short of that high bar, delivering a formulaic, pedestrian movie lacking much in the way of originality or intriguing elements. And that’s before mentioning the heavy-handed social themes at play.
Set in the presumed not-too-distant future, Norway has been ravaged by a nuclear war. Whether by accident or deliberate, many residents are forced to eke out a living in this inhospitable world. In the midst of this misery are our married protagonists Leonora and Jacob. Together with their daughter Alice, they do their best to survive.
In true call-to-action form, a mysterious rich stranger called Mathias arrives and invites the family along to his dinner theatre for some entertainment and a lavish meal. With the prospect of filling their growling stomachs, the family skip along, oblivious to the fact this is an obvious trap.
Mathias’ fascination with Alice continues back at the theatre though, eventually leading to a dangerous “game” where masks are handed to the guests to separate them from actors dotted around the hotel.
Predictably, the line between reality and fiction soon blurs which is actually handled pretty well across the first act. Unfortunately the film inevitably takes one turn too many and becomes lost in the labyrinth of its own creation.
Of course, a lot of the more obvious twists and turns are orchestrated early on meaning horror and thriller aficionados will undoubtedly see them coming a mile off.
There’s also some interesting ideas that are teased early on, namely Leonora’s mental fragility. Unfortunately this is glossed over and never really delved into in that much detail.
In fact, this surface level gloss-over is synonymous with many of the characters and ideas at play here. There really isn’t that much depth to this and Mathias in particular comes across as archetypal and lacking much to differentiate him from a million other creepy personas in this genre.
Stylistically though, Cadaver does get some points for its visuals and tone. There’s a really slick use of cameras early on and those moments where the family start exploring this creepy hotel are excellent. Precariously walking through the hallways, the family glance in rooms as if it’s a grotesque advent calendar of horrors. It’s great stuff but disappointingly short-lived.
Cadaver does have a few good moments but they’re drowned out by the inevitable wave of mediocrity hanging over this one. The plot twists are predictable, the characters lack charisma and all of this combines to create a very forgettable experience. This is one hotel you won’t be returning to in a hurry.