This psychological thriller tells the story of Anna and her eight year old son, Anders, who have narrowly escaped a hellish life from an abusive husband. Anna and Anders are set up in a small apartment at a secret location to begin a new life. Understandably, Anna is extremely overprotective of Anders, double checking the locks, sitting outside of his new school all day, and forcing him to sleep in the same bedroom with her. When Child Welfare insist that Anders sleep in his own room, Anna purchases a baby monitor from a nice man named Helge. One night, Anna is abruptly woken by the sounds of a screaming child and older man on the monitor. Luckily, Anders is fine in the next room but the source of those frantic and frightened sounds is left unknown.
From that moment forward, Anna appears to slowly unravel by a series of bizarre and incomprehensible events. Paranoia sets in and Anna’s senses are heightened, letting her imagination run wild and always assuming the worst. Her seemingly good relationship with her son is put into question with her increasingly erratic behavior. Anna divulges to Helge that hours of the day go by that she can’t remember. The fact that this director can make the audience feel just as lost and confused as Anna is an accomplished feat. As Anna relives her traumatic memories, this tangled mystery unravels. Her worry and sense of dread comes to fruition, almost in a self-fulfilling prophecy. The development of Anna’s character, from abused surviving victim to possibly deceitful liar, is done in a spiraling out-of-control (but believable) way.
This film comes from Norwegian director, Pål Sletaune. Norwegian horror films have been gaining ground with films like Dead Snow, Cold Prey, Troll Hunter, and Next Door. Next Door is probably the least well-known of these titles but is by the same director of The Monitor. Having seen Next Door a few years ago, I definitely sense a similarity of quiet chaos in his films. This sleeper hit has the same feeling as watching Memento for the first time. You have no idea what is fact or fiction until the bitter end. In a way, this film reminds me of the American remake, Dark Waters. They both have an underlying drowning and depressing feeling set in similar settings. The ending is quite dark, sometimes predictable, but more than often surprising. What seems so complex is clear as day once the truth is revealed. All makes sense in the end, somehow tying this multifaceted story with a pretty ribbon… well, maybe not so pretty.
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