TIFF 2017: Thelma Is Slow-Building Horror With Major Pay-Off

thelma tiff

Who’s Behind It

Norwegian writer/director Joachim Trier, the filmmaker behind the 2011 TIFF selection, Oslo, August 31st and 2015’s Louder Than Bombs. The film is Norway’s entry in the Best Foreign Picture category in this year’s Oscar race.

Who’s In It

Eili Harboe (The Wave), Norwegian singer-songwriter Okay Kaya, Henrik Rafaelsen (Lilyhammer), and Ellen Dorrit Petersen (Shelley).

Who’ll Love It

Fans of subtle, slow-building horror films who want to see Brian de Palma’s adaptation of Carrie remade in the aesthetic of Let the Right One In.

What’s It About

Thelma (Eili Harboe) has left her sheltered, isolated childhood home to start college in the city. Smart, studious, shy, and devoutly religious, she struggles to make friends until, seemingly out of nowhere, a pretty, popular girl draws her into her circle. Suddenly, everything begins to go Thelma’s way—until an incident at a house party traumatizes and humiliates her, resulting in even more dire consequences for her new friend. When Thelma returns home, seeking shelter from the fallout of the tragedy at school, what and who she really is begins to become clear.

Why You Should See It

Each new horror film seems to try to outdo its predecessor in terms of violence and gore, upping the shock value ante in franchises like Human Centipede, The Purge, The Green Inferno, or last year’s TIFF screening of The Autopsy of Jane Doe. Thelma adopts a different tactic, injecting an icy and serene Scandinavian aesthetic with intense moments of passion and intimacy between Thelma and Anya (Kaya) and while gradually hinting at the frightening truth of Thelma’s power and how she’s used it since childhood, revealing almost everything in one, brutal climactic scene while still managing to leave you guessing about what she’s really done—and what she’ll do in the future.

When You Can See It

Sunday, September 10 at 9PM (Scotiabank); Tuesday September 12 at 12:45PM (Scotiabank); Friday, September 15 at 3:45PM (Scotiabank). Tickets available here. Opens in limited release on November 10. Check out the trailer and poster below.