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Thursday, June 29, 2017

FEED THE LIGHT -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle

It's a real pleasure to see directors and cinematographers these days who not only work in black and white but seem to revel in the unique qualities and possibilities of the medium.

Swedish director Henrik Möller's nightmarishly dark FEED THE LIGHT, aka "Lokalvårdaren" (2015) has been described as "Lovecraftian", which it most definitely is, but visually it's also very "Lynchian" in its bleak and exquisitely evocative use of disturbingly surreal black and white imagery a la ERASERHEAD, with only a few splashes of color for emphasis. 

As Möller himself describes the plot, "In brief you can say that it's about a warehouse in the harbor where mysterious things happen to the cleaning personnel.  There is something wrong with the light."  (That's putting it mildly.)

To clarify that a bit, distraught mother Sara (Lina Sundén) has lost custody of her daughter Jenny to her abusive husband Jon (Patrik Karlson), and in order to try and steal her back, she seeks custodial employment in the same mysterious building where he works. 

Things seem "off" immediately.  The only managerial personnel consists of a stiff, cruel woman (Jenny Lampa) named Chefen but known in hushed tones as "The Boss."  The only other people roaming the dim, dreary hallways are a surly cleaning crew to which Sara is assigned, with the special instruction, "Always keep the silver dust swept up." 

It isn't long before Sara realizes that there's something strange and malevolent about the light inside the building--the silver dust, in fact, seems to fall from the light fixtures themselves.  Before the story's done, a bizarre source of light within the bowels of the lowest basement level will hold the horrible secret of the building's seemingly impenetrable mystery.


Until then, Sara engages in a furtive search for Jenny that keeps us in bewildered suspense from the very start, encountering both hostile coworkers and the increasingly intimidating Boss (who keeps in her office, seemingly as a pet, an unkempt naked man who seems to think he's a dog). 

Her only allies are an outwardly sympathetic crew foreman (Martin Jirhamn), who may or may not be on her side, and, surprisingly, her ex-husband Jon, whom she finds in decidedly decrepit condition after having spent some non-quality time in the lower level trying to get to the bottom of the mystery himself.

With their help and advice, and despite their warnings, Sara's quest to venture into the first basement (and eventually, of course, into the lowest, creepiest sub-basement) becomes a horrific journey into the paranormal in which nothing is as it seems.

Doors and entire hallways appear out of nowhere, while an unseen force seems to guide her along through the dark, mazelike corridors.  She encounters what appears to be Jenny, but is it?  Most disturbingly, there's a fleeting shadow creature reminiscent of those sleep-paralysis phantoms, only this one is more aggressively hostile.

It reminds me of the creature in the "Outer Limits" episode, "It Crawled Out of the Woodwork", of which I still have shuddery childhood memories.  Other chilling images bring to mind the scarier episodes of "The X-Files" (mainly the ones about the black oil).  

Moreover, the use of extremely limited resources in an imaginatively cinematic way reminds me of HARD REVENGE MILLY, a futuristic action-revenge thriller that also takes place mainly in one empty building and works wonders with very little.

Mainly, though, it's a unique film experience that will nourish the morbid-leaning genre fan's hunger for both the Lovecraftian and the Lynchian, whose subtle twists of reality suddenly give way to jarring images of horror.

The Blu-ray from Intervision is in 1080p full HD resolution with 2.0 audio (Swedish with English subtitles).  Extras include a making-of featurette, a director interview entitled "The Lovecraft Influence", and the film's trailer.

Brilliantly told, with excellent performances, the mood and atmosphere of FEED THE LIGHT surround the viewer like a dense fog, as we feel our way uncertainly toward an ending that is both disorienting and truly haunting.

Buy it at Severin Films

Watch the Trailer


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