Combustible Celluloid
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With: Eric Ericson, Eva Rose, Jonas Karlsson, Lina Englund, Sasha Becker, Adam Lundgren, Karl Norrhall, Peter Engman, Jacqueline Ramel, Mattias Padin Varela, Per Ragnar, Joel Kinnaman, Sofia Hvittfeldt, Oscar Akermo, Christian Hollbrink, Viktor Strom
Written by: Måns Mårlind
Directed by: Måns Mårlind, Björn Stein
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: Swedish, with English subtitles
Running Time: 110
Date: 11/17/2005

Storm (2005)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Building Box

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Ingmar Bergman was the one-man Swedish film industry for so long that it's hard to imagine anyone else working there, much less making a sci-fi, comic book, computer nerd movie like Storm. Even the younger generation like Jan Troell and Lasse Hallström were content to follow in Bergman's art-house footsteps, although they tended to overlook his penchant for exploring darkness and nightmares. Who can forget that horrific sequence in Wild Strawberries, or shake off the effect, in Fanny and Alexander, of the world's nastiest screen villain (Jan Malmsjo's bishop)? Then there's Persona, with its slowly unraveling grip on reality, and The Virgin Spring and Hour of the Wolf, both pure horror show. And so it appears that the true students of Bergman are more daring filmmakers like Roy Andersson, Lukas Moodysson, Mikael Håfström and now perhaps the team of Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein, the men behind Storm, made in 2005 and now released on DVD by TLA Releasing.

Storm works like a combination of The Matrix and Flatliners, but tied together with nightmarish strains emanating from elsewhere. Eric Ericson stars as freelance journalist "DD" (the initials for "Donny Davidson"). He's a pretty normal guy; he likes clubs, drugs, hanging out, watching movies, etc. He doesn't actually do any work during the film, but he does sweet talk one of his editors. On a night out, he runs into a weird redhead, Lova (Eva Rose), and eventually comes into possession of a small cube, or a box. From there, he's constantly chased (he's been framed for the murder of a young woman), until Lova conks him on the noggin and sends him into an "Alice in Wonderland"-type world, complete with a giant tea set. It's some kind of combination of an alternate reality, completely devoid of people, and DD's past. We see a younger version of DD rape (or nearly rape) a young girl smitten with him, we see him torment his younger brother, and we learn about a mysterious, yet key event that shaped everything. Recalling these occurrences, which he has apparently forgotten, gives him the chance to do penance in the real world.

But the twisty plot, written by Mårlind, layers on many other ideas. Another mysterious man shows up and tries to convince DD not to open the box, to go on living his life; he tries to convince DD that his "memories" have been planted by Lova. DD also occasionally finds comic books laying around that help fill in the blanks, but also create more mysteries. In one comic story, Lova is kidnapped, and DD manages to rescue her in the real world. It's a regular head-trip, with Mårlind and Stein refusing to answer any questions, and even refusing to wrap up the "wrongly-accused" plot. Visually, Storm is playfully inventive, even if it feels borrowed from other films. Anytime DD turns a corner, he wanders into some new, spectacular environment, such as a huge, dark warehouse full of illuminated computer screens, or suddenly appearing on a beach in Cuba. The filmmakers are clearly thrilled by the visual possibilities of their film, and although Storm doesn't have the natural, organic flow of one of Bergman's dream/nightmare sequences, it does continue Bergman's unusual and admirable tactic of keeping some of the mystery to himself.

DVD Details: TLA's 2008 DVD comes with an optional English-dubbed version, trailers and a still gallery.

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