TIFF 2017: ‘Valley of Shadows’ (‘Skyggenes Dal’) Review 


Lots of horror films (recently, in fact) have had a large focus on capitalizing fear through a device of sorts. And then here comes a film by Jonas Matzow Gulbrandsen. While it’s not what you’d call horror necessarily, the keen intent of capturing fear through the eyes of a child is also prominently featured here, though it’s a more quiet and somber piece.

Aslak is a 6 year old boy living in Norway with his mother, Astrid. She is ultimately grieving, while Aslak is left pondering on the situation. His friend takes him to see three sheep, eaten and trashed, on the night of a full moon. Following a tradition of the Scandinavian Gothic, Aslak sets out to the forest for answers, if they can ever be found, and if what’s beyond his eyes is reality.

Gulbrandsen’s takes are quite slow. That being said, Valley of Shadows is mysterious and it’s cinematography lures you into the mythos. As Aslak is tangled up in the meaning of his surroundings, the atmosphere is full thought. Whether the end result leaves you cold or lifted, it’s a safe, indulgent piece of filmmaking.

Rating: 7/10

Public Screenings: Sept 10 11:15 am, Sept 15 8:30 pm

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