Can atmosphere elevate a film from ordinary to extraordinary? It does so to a large degree in Valley of Shadows, an ambitious work by Jonas Matzow Gulbrandsen (and his brother Marius, the cinematographer), as a traditional fairy tale story becomes something more monstrous and fascinating, and certainly feels like a theatrical masterpiece.
The story, as such, is that there is a mysterious force in a Norwegian forest, and Aslak (Adam Ekeli) ventures in and…well, you’ll need to see for yourself. Needless to say, there are few easy answers in the film, and even less dialogue. The film goes stretches without words and atmosphere does catapult Valley of Shadows a long way, but stops a little bit shy of the stratosphere.
Still, the images captured are stunning, and this film is made to be seen on the biggest, widest and most expansive theatre, but may not be for children, despite starring the cherubic blond Ekeli. It recalls early Guillermo del Toro, but is a work all of its own, and should emerge from the shadows.