Michael Hartford

writer, photographer, programmer, dad

Tag: iceland


When he receives a strange phone call from his ex-boyfriend Einar, Gunnar goes to Einar’s secluded family cabin, where together they face their loneliness, isolation, regret, and something dark on the uncaring lava fields of Iceland.

Four the first three quarters of the movie, this is a story about loneliness and regret, quite lyrical if stark (perfectly capturing the feeling of Iceland’s empty spaces). It takes a strange turn toward the end, where some night-vision camera footage, an abandoned apartment building, and a strange old man who lives alone on the lava fields give the movie a brief horror vibe. While it’s certainly creepy and haunted throughout, it’s not really a scary movie, unless what scares you is coming to terms with your regrets. It’s a beautiful movie, though, and strongly recommended.

Icelandic Horror Movie: Grafir og Bein (Graves and Bones)

On the weekend before he’s to be sentenced for financial fraud, Gunnar goes with his wife Sonja to a remote house where Gunnar’s niece Perla is staying after the apparent suicide of her parents. Strange things start to happen, seemingly centered on the little girl and the house’s tragic history.

I watched this in part to prepare for a trip to Iceland: I’ve read the tour guides and restaurant reviews and even done a few lessons in Icelandic, so I wanted to get a glimpse into Iceland’s culture through a horror movie. A few things I took away: Icelanders drink a lot of coffee and wear a lot of sweaters, they don’t talk a whole lot, and they’re incapable of distinguishing a real little girl from an evil ghost. It was useful to hear spoken Icelandic, and I enjoyed picking up the handful of words (45 or so, according to the app I’ve been using) that are in my extremely limited vocabulary.

The story was a little sketchy, with gaps in the plot that didn’t seem to be just a matter of translation. At the end, it was unclear how much of the haunting was real, and how much was in Gunnar’s head. All in all an enjoyable movie, but I think it could have done with some editing for clarity.

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