- Jeremy Aspinall
- 7 September 2020
This Scandinavian camping chiller from Johannes Nyholm channels David Lynch
A jaunty nursery rhyme provides the title of this unnerving, dreamlike horror fable, though Carry On Camping could be a suitable English alternative for Swedish writer-director Johannes Nyholm's sophomore feature. The ditty is disturbing enough, but it's actually a music box adorned with cheery children's characters which emerges as a portent of doom for an unsuspecting married couple.
Three years after a devastating tragedy, bickering Elin (Ylva Gallon) and Tobias (Leif Edlund) head off on a camping trip, pitching their tent in a sinister wood that wouldn't have looked out of place in Twin Peaks. Indeed, there's something of David Lynch's mind-bending Lost Highway here, too, with sudden time-shifts and the haunting appearance of grotesque fiends brought to life as if from a fever dream.
Elin and Tobias are not the most likeable of couples, but they have reasons for their ill-tempered relationship. They certainly don't deserve to be tormented by a tenacious trio of psychos lurking in the forest gloom. A dapper gent in a straw boater (played by a gleefully cruel Peter Belli) conducts the murderous mayhem along with killer cohorts – ursine hulk Sampo (Morad Baloo Khatchadorian) and rangy harridan lady Cherry (Brandy Litmanen) – who could pass for Popeye characters Bluto and Alice the Goon, only darker and way more homicidal.
Caught in a time-loop flicks like Groundhog Day and Happy Death Day paved the way for this sort of scenario, but Nyholm's variations in this feature-length expansion of his 2017 short film The Music Box evoke the surreal spirit of the aforementioned Lynch with off-kilter twists and old-school animated inserts. It may be an acquired taste for some – more arthouse than grindhouse – but the combination of foreboding folklore, ghoulish black comedy and sheer oddness ensures this enigmatic tale of terror is never dull.
Available to watch on demand from Mon 7 Sep.