Straddling the line between art film and supernatural chiller, but lacking the off-kilter imagination that allows Polanski to infuse everyday scenes with a profound sense of dread, Swedish director Pål Sletaune’s slow-burning psychological thriller often threatens to sputter out.
Fanning the flames of our interest is a sympathetic, low-key performance by Noomi Rapace (Lisbeth Salander in ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’, pictured), cast here as Anna, a mousey single mother in hiding from her abusive husband. Isolated in a Stockholm apartment, Anna is obsessed with protecting her eight-year-old son from everyone: a new school friend, his unsympathetic teachers, interfering social workers. So, with an already shaky grip on reality, when she hears phantom screams on a baby monitor, Anna doubts her sanity. Her tentative friendship with shy mummy’s boy Helge (Kristoffer Joner) offers a sliver of hope, but Anna’s mind is shattering. Throughout, Sletaune tends to hedge his supernatural bets, so it’s the naturalistic intensity of Rapace’s performance that stays with us.