HORROR; 1hr 58min (Norwegian with subtitles)
STARRING: Rakel Lenora Fløttum, Alva Brynsmo Ramstad, Sam Ashraf, Mina Yasmin Bremseth Asheim
Sharp focus: Fløttum and Ashraf
Kids do the darnedest things — especially differently abled outliers with too much free time and a Norwegian apartment complex to roam around in. Even before their twisted gifts become evident, nine-year-old Ida (Fløttum) and her newfound sidekick, Ben (Ashraf), reveal their true colours by pinching Ida’s older, autistic sister, Anna (Ramstad), then throwing a cat down a stairwell. Anna finds a friend in empath Aisha (Bremseth Asheim). But what really draws the gruesome foursome together are telekinetic and psychic abilities about which their wallpaper parents are clueless in the tradition of irrelevant shock-horror parents throughout the cinema ages.
Writer-director Eskil Vogt is in no rush to get this party started. The kids — captured with unnerving proficiency by the ensemble cast — flex their fright wings in baby beats to begin with, in a game from which there is no turning back once the hive-minded rush of agency kicks in. Its results are drastically mixed: with the power of Aisha’s mental prompting, locked-in Anna is able to tentatively speak (and if there is one star in this murky firmament, it’s a painfully authentic Ramstad). Ben’s impulses soon take centre stage, however, and they are as pitch black as you would expect from a grudge-holding cat killer.
The flare-ups are shriek-inducing (at least from me), yet the true horror here is the pull of torment plotted in jolting increments by a discerning Vogt. While nobody around them is safe, it’s the children who must finally bear the knowledge of what they have unleashed. In a hellish dimension that lures to entrap, Ben’s powers are a pestilence that has infected them all.