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THE UNKNOWN

Sweden, 2000 (MIFF 2002, Strange New Worlds)

Director: Michael Hjorth

Echoing films like Evil Dead, The Blair Witch Project and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, this Swedish chiller promises to have you thinking twice about a camping holiday. Five researchers are dispatched to a remote patch of forest to report on an inexplicable fire. Friendly bickering about camp chores takes a nasty turn when the researchers find the partially charred corpse of an unidentifiable animal that makes the Eraserhead baby look cuter than Barbie. Mystery illness and secretive behaviour overtakes the team as they battle to maintain sanity and hold out against terrors from without or within.

Handheld camerawork and shadowy textures heighten the menace of a seared landscape and the claustrophobic camp environment. Rather than rely on special effects, tension and torment are built with sparse soundscapes and things glimpsed out of the corner of the eye ... and sometimes in the throat of your husband!

Michael Hjorth studied film in New York before returning to his homeland to work as a writer for Swedish television. In 1995 he founded production company The Vänner with actor-writer Tomas Tivemark (who stars in The Unknown). The partnership has produced numerous popular Swedish TV series and features.

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