The Damned Review: Alien Meets Nightmare On Elm Street In A Stunning Supernatural Horror Debut [Tribeca] – SlashFilm


“The Damned” is very obviously pulling from a grab bag of influences, a broad range that includes everything from John Carpenter to the dreamy horror of Wes Craven’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street” to the cultural specificity of Icelandic legend, but this merely adds further flavor and layers to a movie that’s much more interested in marrying ghost-story aesthetics with a genuine psychological-thriller bent. Spectacle is the furthest thing from Palsson’s mind, which is particularly on display when the sinking of the ship is filmed from a distance and entirely from the perspective of the horrified onlookers on the beach — though that isn’t to say this results in an emotional remove. Eva’s fateful choice not to intervene is compounded by the discovery of much-needed supplies washing ashore, which finally motivates the small group to row out hours later in the hopes of finding even more. When they encounter a handful of survivors desperate for help, Eva’s subsequent actions and that of her crew seal their fate for what’s to come next.

Clearly fascinated by the inner workings of the human mind when confronted by feelings of overwhelming guilt, the script takes a deliberate approach to unspooling the steady breakdown of this last vestige of civilization for miles around. Cut off and alone, Eva grows closer to a well-meaning man named Daniel (“Peaky Blinders” alum Joe Cole), who steps up into a leadership position following their mishap at sea. Though this tender romance provides a brief break from the brutalism of the rest of the plot, Palsson is ultimately more intrigued by the effects of a morality play that soon devolves into a monster movie.

Even in an old-fashioned period piece with a penchant for historical detail, “The Damned” neatly transitions into an unnerving parable where mythical “Draugur” — the bodies of survivors washed ashore turned into undead spirits of vengeance — appear to be stalking this village’s every step. And as ominously foretold by an old fisherwoman named Helga (Siobhan Finneran), whose warnings were dismissed as “old wives’ tales,” neither their waking moments nor the allure of sleep offer any way out.

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