Apr 26, 2019
It’s Friday! Friday! And I’ll stop that right now. We’re back with another Fantastic Fest review from our own Andrew Campbell, this time reviewing an exciting sequel to a Norwegian film I enjoyed watching very much in 2017, “The Wave”. You can catch “The Wave” on Netflix and Hoopla, and since Andrew submitted the review, “The Quake” is now available on Hulu. For a couple other Norwegian films, check out “22 July” (Episode #286) and “Battle” (Episode #347).
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Take it away, Andrew!
Hello film fans!
Andrew here, glad to have escaped last week’s drug-fueled dancehall nightmare that was France’s “Climax”, as we now head up to Norway for a much calmer film about an earthquake primed to annihilate the city of Oslo and all of its inhabitants. 2018 was a big year for Nordic action films at Fantastic Fest, with the release of a Swedish film called “The Unthinkable” that is everything the recent “Red Dawn” remake wishes it could have been. No word on when ”The Unthinkable” will be available stateside, but I’ll keep you posted.
Disaster films often struggle, amid the hokey premise, to create an emotional connection between the viewer and its characters before it begins putting them through hell. But not only does this film give you a wonderfully believable family, it also pulls off something that disaster films rarely attempt – it’s a direct sequel.
Today’s film is “The Quake”, written by Victor Danell and Christopher Norderot and directed by Danell. “The Quake” made its Texas premiere at the 2018 Fantastic Fest, the sequel to 2015’s “The Wave”, which incidentally did not play the festival. Both films follow the Eikjord family as they flee from a natural disaster and have such similar plot structures that you could easily write a five-sentence description that could be used for either film interchangeably. In the first film “The Wave”, Kristian Eikjord (Kristoffer Joner) is a veteran geologist serving his final day on duty (yes, that old trope) monitoring a mountain prone to rock-slides that could devastate the picturesque tourist village below. To the disbelief of his colleagues, Kristian correctly predicts an imminent catastrophe which comes in the form of a tsunami, and Kristian must reunite and rescue his family. Fast forward three years to the subject of this review, “The Quake”, and Kristian is at it again, this time with the stakes raised. Swap the tourist village for Oslo and change the tsunami to an earthquake. So the stakes were raised, but what about the bar?
What made the “The Wave” such an amazing film was the gorgeous backdrop and the unique disaster film premise based on real events in 1905 and 1934, wherein rockslides triggered massive 100-plus-feet tsunamis that decimated two villages. The geography of western Norway is almost otherworldly with lush mountains enclosing spider-webs of deep fjords formed during the last ice age. I had a vague association of Norway and fjords from high school many years ago, but now with the advent of Google Earth you can really get a sense of just how unique a place this is. With “The Quake” taking place mostly in Oslo, the sequel gives up its distinctive setting and the disaster sequences tread in the same territory as films like “San Andreas” or “2012”. What “The Quake” does right is that it spends an hour plus of its 100 minute runtime ratcheting up the suspense ahead of the inevitable quake. Maybe this is simply a byproduct of budget constraints that limited the amount of special effects the production could afford, but it works well in any case.
Kristian and his wife Idun (Anne Dahl Torp) have great chemistry as the parents of a college-age son and a teenage daughter. After the events of “The Wave”, their marriage has become strained to the point of separation due to the obsessive guilt Kristian feels for not doing more to prevent the first disaster. Here, the family members work to reconcile their relationships with one another while the powers-that-be (and, honestly, the viewing audience) struggle to believe that the same man who correctly foresaw the tsunami a few years earlier could be right once again as the only person predicting Oslo’s imminent destruction. The premise is both recycled and far-fetched, but the characters and special effects are so wonderful that you’ll be willing to suspend your disbelief.
What makes “The Quake” fantastic?
The same thing that made “The Wave” fantastic. The use of special effects in both films is as sparse as it is devastatingly delightful. Avoid both trailers and see for yourself. Any successful disaster picture requires two types of action scenes: a fast-paced sequence showing a wave of [insert your favorite natural disaster here] doling out the initial damage, followed by an extended set-piece where our cast of characters must band together to deal with after-effects. Both of these films absolutely nail these scenes and that’s what matters most.
“The Quake” (2018) is a heartfelt suspense film that builds to a memorable action crescendo. Fans of big-budget disaster films like “San Andreas” and low-budget disaster films like Eli Roth’s overlooked “Aftershock” will enjoy this one.
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
One Movie Punch: 8.0/10
“The Quake” is rated PG-13 and is available on VOD and DVD. “The Wave”, however, is now streaming on Netflix and would be the perfect way to whet your appetite.
Come back next week when I’ll be reviewing “Destroyer”, the highly-anticipated (by me, at least) follow-up to director Karyn Kusama’s criminally underseen 2015 film “The Invitation”. Most of the buzz surrounding this gritty LA tale concerns Nicole Kidman going full “Charlize Theron in ‘Monster’” as a troubled detective. Let’s head back to the States and drop the subtitles. I’ll see you then.