The Horror Honeys: "The Innocent Child's Death and My Revenge..."

"The Innocent Child's Death and My Revenge..."

A Revenge Honey Classic Review by Linnie


The Virgin Spring (1960)

I find that with a lot of revenge films, no matter how amazing they are, they are often inspired by something even more exceptional. For example, The Last House on the Left (1972) is one of the most classic rape/revenge horror films ever made. Wes Craven had the courage to make a horrifically brutal horror film that signified the end of the hippie generation and the literal death of innocence. But the fact is, The Last House is heavily adapted from Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring, which in turn is based on a 13th-century Swedish ballad. Without question, The Virgin Spring is a gorgeous piece of film history that encapsulates questions of morality, the trappings of religion, and the nature of true justice versus the desire for revenge.

Blonde = good. Brunette = heathen. Take note.
The Story: Karin is the lovely and spoiled daughter of a very well-off rural Swedish family with ties to the church. When Karin is appointed by her adoring mother and father to deliver candles to the local priest, she is accompanied by the family's jealous and very pregnant maid, Ingeri, on the journey. However, when Ingeri's worship of Norse god Odin leads to an awkward encounter with a man in the woods, Karin continues on the journey alone, and meets three vagrants on the road. When Karin is raped and murdered by two of the men, who then seek shelter with Karin's family, her father and mother are left with the torturous decision of whether to seek revenge as their hearts' desire or forgive their daughter's killers as god commands.

You're a little rich alone in the woods! Why would you stop to chill with
these guys??
Ingmar Bergman is unequivocally one of the masters of the thinking Honey's horror film. Persona, The Seventh Seal, these are some of the most masterful not-quite-horror films ever made. But none is more deeply moving than The Virgin Spring. Regardless of your feelings about religion, there is something lovely about seeing Karin's family, lead by the always amazing Max von Sydow, as they go about their daily lives, still peppering every action with the utmost devotion. Even as they live in the lap of (for the time) luxury, they never cease to be grateful for what they have. However, their reluctance to discipline their daughter is what leads to much of her downfall, as established by Bergman early on.

All the feels. All of them.
Karin is characterized as a girl who always gets what she wants and sees the world as a great big love fest. In Karin's eyes, the world is as pure and as beautiful as she wants it to be, and the fact that she sees no danger in anything is terrifying, whether you are a parent or not. Karin is played with delicate innocence by Birgitta Pettersson, and because of that innocence, there is an undeniable undercurrent of terror to every moment she's on screen. Yet no moment is more horrifying than the scene in which Karin seals her fate by being overly nice to the wrong men. The rape/murder of Karin is one of the most horrifying I've ever seen on screen, because Bergman and cinematographer Sven Nykvist know how to frame each second to deliver the most horror.

I won't reveal any more about The Virgin Spring, because for those that haven't seen it, I believe the last half hour of the film is the most gut-wrenching in film history. But there is no question... If you love revenge cinema, see The Virgin Spring. The Criterion Collection release is absolutely worth owning.

Revenge Honey Rating - 5 feels out of 5. ALL THE FEELS!
Message of The Virgin Spring? Teach your kids about stranger danger.

The Virgin Spring is available on Netflix DVD, Hulu, and DVD