Onto the boggy marshlands of Skarrild, a southern hamlet of Denmark, tread several figures—and not just the characters of this noirish quirkfest. First comes the pompadoured shadow of David Lynch, whose Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks seem to figure prominently in the film’s plot of an outsider cop (Cedergren) encountering townie resistance from a mysterious femme fatale (Christensen) and her deranged husband (Bodnia). Then come the visages of two shorter men, the Coen brothers: playful genre subverters no doubt kept in mind during the writing of scenes involving lots of arch verbal sparring—and, in one Western-indebted instance, a beer-pounding showdown in a bar.
Finally, let’s be generous and notice the presence of actual director Henrik Ruben Genz. Terribly Happy synthesizes all of these influences in a way that’s rarely boring. Even if originality isn’t Genz’s strong suit, he’s done his amiable cast and crew proud. You’ll like the movie much more when it seems to be mocking the idea of small-town corruption, as did something like Hot Fuzz or (yes) Fargo. Seriousness does eventually take the lead in the latter goings-on and you’ll wonder who laid an M. Night Shyamalan. Still, the film is vigorous exercise for those who prefer their mysteries knowing and knotty.—Joshua Rothkopf
Opens Fri; Angelika. Find showtimes
Watch the trailer