The Horror Honeys: "Når dyrene drømmer" ~ Not Your Average Nightmare

"Når dyrene drømmer" ~ Not Your Average Nightmare

A Supernatural Honey Review by Suzanne

When Animals Dream (Når dyrene drømmer) – 2014

Over the last several years, Scandinavian horror films have had some real mainstream success. Films such as, Cold Prey (Norway - 2006), Let the Right One In (Sweden - 2008), Dead Snow (Norway – 2009), and Rare Exports (Finland - 2011) have become staples in the diets of horror fans, using isolation, cold temperatures, and snow to accompany their bloody brutality. It’s a formula that works and these films are particularly appealing during the winter months when we are more inclined to feel that chill a little more keenly.

When Animals Dream is one of the newest horror offerings from Denmark. It’s a werewolf film in the most general sense, but it’s primarily a coming of age story. You’re probably thinking, “This has been done before,” and it has, but not like this.

Marie (Sonia Suhl) is a teenager on the cusp of womanhood. She lives a predominantly solitary existence with her father, Thor, and her catatonic mother who needs around the clock care. Taking a job at a fish processing plant, Marie is ignored by the majority of her co-workers, until after hours when some of the men harass her. She begins to go through some physical changes, which has her father worried and suspicious. Marie begins to realize her family is hiding an awful secret and she wonders if the changes she’s experiencing are related to her mother’s condition. As the truth comes to light and rather than suffer her mother’s sad fate, Marie is determined to take a stand and the only person she can trust is her boyfriend, Daniel, who will stop at nothing to protect her.

Marie is a strong female character and Suhl does a superb job of carrying the film. Lars Mikkelson is wonderful as Marie’s brokenhearted father, torn between protecting his daughter and setting her free. (In case you’re wondering, yes, that’s Mads Mikkelson’s brother.) The only other major player here is Daniel, played by Jakob Oftebro, who could not be more adorable if he tried and his chemistry with Suhl seems genuine.

Those expecting a film in the vein of Ginger Snaps are going to be very disappointed. When Animals Dream is a serious, slow-burn film that, to be perfectly honest, isn’t even really about werewolves. This is Marie’s journey into adulthood and she must navigate some very dangerous waters in the process. She faces a potentially debilitating genetic disorder that neither her doctor nor her father will open up about. Because everyone in town seems to be aware of the family’s history, Marie is an outcast, although she has no idea why, until she finally understands and begins to accept what is happening to her. While the gore is limited, When Animals Dream is not without its share of unnerving moments. The film does not shy away from sexual situations, both innocent and somewhat gratuitous. Marie is subjected to some very brutal harassment and it’s truly difficult to watch.

Someone needs a paraffin dip.
There is nothing too “in your face” about this film. The isolation and cold I mentioned earlier are more metaphoric here, but are also no less effective. The transformation process is subtle and takes place over a period of time. The makeup is actually quite beautiful and is more of an enhancement to Marie’s human features. She may be a monster, but she hasn’t completely lost her humanity.

Supernatural Honey Rating: 3.5 hairy backs out of 5

When Animals Dream is available on DVD, 
Netflix Instant, and Amazon Streaming.

Don't pick it, it'll scar.