Film Review: Feed the Light (2014)
Released in 2017 by INTERVISION PICTURE CORP. and SEVERIN FILMS, FEED THE LIGHT is bare bones, bizarre genre brilliance. Co-written, produced and directed by Henrik Möller, this marks Möller feature film debut after 65 video and traditional short form projects in total. Perhaps as close to a master of short form storytelling as you will find on the scene, Möller and co-writer Martin Jirhamn release a fever blister nightmare that not only is a template for genre filmmakers that want to create pure and dark genre madness but it to be effective but want to create it on a shoestring. Watching the few extras including a short interview with Moller, trailer and “Making of…” as part of the Blu-Ray release, we see Möller as the main DP and co-editor who builds and reveals unexpected horror in what feels like the norm. A DIY horror filmmaking style, Möller’s vision influenced by David Lynch and H.P. Lovecraft as well in my opinion others like Spike Jonze, Shane Ryan, Takashi Miike and Jörg Buttgereit.
A Swedish film with English subtitles, FEED THE LIGHT begins with a mother named Sara (Lina Sundén) who breaks into a non-descriptive office building searching for her abducted daughter by her ex-husband. As she moves through the first floor, Sara is confronted by a mysterious woman/boss who decides to her hire her as part of the cleaning crew for the building. Getting acclimated to her new working conditions and co-workers, things are so unexpected and bizarre that she has a hard time holding onto her sanity while she acts like she is working but is figuring out the mystery of her daughter. Sara is helped by a sinister janitor (Martin Jirhamn) who may or may not be part of the shadow and darkness that roams the different floors of this building. As they work their way deeper into the darkness of this building on each floor, answers become crazier than the questions. With each floor that she enters, the world around her is a mere illusion as the “dark” and the “light” are creating a dimension that Sara may never escape from. Trusting those around her and battling all too human creatures, Sara will do anything to get her daughter back safe and fight feeding the darkness.
FEED THE LIGHT is an attack on the senses. Moller does so much with so little. Along with a skeleton cast and crew, they personify what indie horror film making should be. FEED THE LIGHT never gives you time to breath as you remain off balanced with the labyrinth unfolding before our eyes. Quick cuts, no down time to rest or recover plus long shots that feed into tension and atmosphere, Möller understand the minimal approach in crafting a scene. Möller casting is not extraordinary but is it believable and fits what this film is. The talents ability to execute sudden reactions and Moller’s understanding to sustain moments allows the horror to unfold before us. This partnership drives home the believe ability of not only a mother who is giving it all up to save her daughter from sinister forces that are in every hallway, floor and dark corner. Moller creates such isolation with Sara in the way she is framed, the space and reaction from the other characters. The mysterious janitor played by Jirhamn, is also one of the highlight performances of this unique film. He is both menacing, yet we find a sympathy for him as the anti-hero of the narrative.
Möller’s hands on talent as the DP is an asset to the film with shot selection and his experience of short form films which creates an understanding of pace during this dangerous journey. The viewer feels like a voyeur throughout. Moller’s ability to create different perspectives through filters, texture, framing or Möller’s choice of lens shows no fear. The monochrome style and lighting gives something that many films fail to achieve. It gives a visual style and contrast that makes the world we all enter even more surreal, alien and gritty like going through the looking glass. Detail comes through the lens as if it has been hidden and dulled for decades. An example of this, is the sparkly residue that is oozed from certain areas. The shine contrast against the monochrome creates a new visual that does not pop but has a unique look. For underground and extreme maniacs, there is a very true tone that breaks those barriers and push certain scenes farther than I thought Moller would. The more extreme side is shown through the FX makeup (Magnus Gillberg) and CGI (Simon Moller). The FX work is limited but not excessive. It’s simplistic and effectively released. Part of that isolation of Sara, eerie build and execution of the horror is the sound design, sound edit, and music created by TESTBILD. The soundscape and score are effective. They build on the tension and seem to evolve and move with the danger, struggle and darkness thought out the film.
A wild ride that will take more than one viewing to fully embrace as it took me three viewings before I decided to write review. The hard work and execution by Möller, cast and crew pays off. While I wish (as always) for more extras on this release, FEED THE LIGHT is worth having on Blu-Ray in your collection. This Swedish tale that is both otherworldly and yet connecting with the struggle of the mother and the paranoia and danger that surrounds Sara. Pick up your Unrated copy here.