Saturday, July 17, 2010

Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre (2009)

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that's the case, then Tobe Hooper's "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" must be a very proud man. Many a movie has tried to imitate that movie for a while now, to the point of it becoming more than a little tiresome. Sure, some have managed to succeed in this regard, but many, many more have failed. Though nowhere near as bad as others, "Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre" just can't pull it off in the end.

In Iceland, a motley group of friends and strangers decide "Hey, we should go whale watching!" This is all great at first. Then an all around annoying alcoholic Frenchman named Jean-Francois (Aymen Hamdouchi) start's goofing off, leading to the boat breaking down and the captain ("Chainsaw's" own Gunner Hansen, here advertised in top billing yet regulated to a cameo) dying. Fortunately, they end up being picked up by a whale fishing vessel. Too bad that it's run by a group of sadistic "Fishbillies" who have some harsh plans.

From the get go, you can tell that "Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre" wants desperately to be the Icelandic answer to "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." To it's credit, it does manage to get a few things right. The movie is rather tongue in cheek to say the least, and some of the humor on display got me to laugh a few times. There's also a great, eerie score by Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, as well as some choice cinematography. Oh, and the kills and gore are pretty fun at times too, with one near the end that made even jaded old me applaud.

But it still comes up short. I know that this isn't going to be the most original movie, but this is an instance in which familiarity doesn't breed contempt, but boredom instead. This kind of horror movie has been done so many times, and here there just isn't enough to make it stand out. I don't care how crazy these sea-faring hillbillies are, it's still rather annoying. From a social standpoint, the film seems to be making some kind of statement about the whaling industry and it's effect on nature and economy, yet the movie likes to have it both ways, portraying anti-whaling types as selfish, unlikable hippies (though that is true in some cases-look as "Whale Wars.")

The biggest problem though, is that it doesn't seem to know who should be the main character. First you think it's going to be Annette (Pihla Viitala), but the next thing you know it's Mary-Anne (Miranda Hennessy) and Leon (Terence Anderson) and then it's a female Japanese tourist named Endo (Nae.) Not only do we have nobody to root for, but we also have no real main character. Films like this need a major character to hope for, and this offers none of that.

I will say again that in the world of "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" tributes and rip-offs, this is far from one of the worst. At the same time though, it offers very little else, and feels like a wasted opportunity. Oh well, chalk up another one.

Rating: 4/10

Interesting fact: Apart from writing the screenplay for this movie, Sjón Sigurdsson also wrote songs for Lars Von Trier's "Dancer in the Dark." Quite a difference to say the least.


  1. May is the time when whales migrate from the cold waters around Antarctica to the warmer waters around Australia.