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"Sauna" Reviews/Discussion - 2011 Horror Challenge: Day 14

Old 09-25-11, 07:20 PM
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"Sauna" Reviews/Discussion - 2011 Horror Challenge: Day 14






Sauna (2008)



Selected by J. Farley



IMDB ENTRY

These "October Horror Movie Challenge" threads are for the discussion of the films in the 31 FILM SUBSET.

MAIN THREAD | LIST THREAD

The plan is for everyone to watch this film on the October day in the thread title, and to start discussing it the morning of the following day.
You may start discussion early if you want, but the preferred plan is for this to be as much of a group exercise as possible, with all of us viewing it "together" and discussing after.

Of course, you are totally encouraged to participate in these threads even if you haven't watched the movie on the designated day.
Even if you haven't watched it in years, or are not participating in the Horror Challenge, please feel free to chime in.

Spoiler tags are unnecessary in here, so if you have yet to see the film BEWARE OF SPOILERS.

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Last edited by Chad; 10-13-11 at 04:30 PM.
Old 10-12-11, 04:13 AM
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Re: "Sauna" Reviews/Discussion - 2011 Horror Challenge: Day 14

Just finished watching Sauna and think I understand it on a level of thematic imagery but it seems more challenging. The imagery and tension is good. I'm going to look into reviews and consider the movie more before I comment much further but here's some incoherent rambling/overthinking.

I think the sauna represented an moral reckoning. Even earlier on there were religious overtones with a thread of religious debate between Swede and Russian explorers and I took it that due to those religious differences the Swede were more prone to atonement than the Russians (or maybe this is because the Russians acted more ethically); or this could just be the story was told from the Swede point of view. One concern is that Erik's character seemed intentionally set up to be a one dimensional mean spirited bigot magnifying the idea of redemption. That Erik killed the child at the end of the movie might imply there is no such thing as absolute forgiveness or that someone can not change their nature. Knut seemed much more passive in aggression contrasting evil through apathy or inaction versus Erik's active offenses of killing 74 others. Still not sure what to make of everything but it was a wild ride.

Regardless this was not a good 2am movie.

Edit: I changed the nationality to the correct term, Swede (not Swiss); thanks to Trevor and clckworang.

Last edited by Undeadcow; 10-14-11 at 03:54 PM.
Old 10-14-11, 02:03 PM
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Re: "Sauna" Reviews/Discussion - 2011 Horror Challenge: Day 14

Originally Posted by Undeadcow View Post
I think the sauna represented an moral reckoning. Even earlier on there were religious overtones with a thread of religious debate between Swiss and Russian explorers and I took it that due to those religious differences the Swiss were more prone to atonement than the Russians (or maybe this is because the Russians acted more ethically); or this could just be the story was told from the Swiss point of view. One concern is that Erik's character seemed intentionally set up to be a one dimensional mean spirited bigot magnifying the idea of redemption. That Erik killed the child at the end of the movie might imply there is no such thing as absolute forgiveness or that someone can not change their nature. Knut seemed much more passive in aggression contrasting evil through apathy or inaction versus Erik's active offenses of killing 74 others. Still not sure what to make of everything but it was a wild ride.
I always get confused with European country and countrymen terms. Danish, Holland, Netherlands, Swiss, etc; often get confused. It's not Swiss in this film is it, isn't that Switzerland? These were Swedes, right?

And maybe I totally misread the ending. Wasn't it Knut that killed the little girl at the end? The cutting was a bit confusing to this overly tired brain perhaps.

Loved the film overall. Great tension and acting. Feel like I need a re-watch or two to fully "get it" though.
Old 10-14-11, 02:19 PM
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Re: "Sauna" Reviews/Discussion - 2011 Horror Challenge: Day 14

^ Yep, they were Swedes. I also didn't think it was Erik at the end. I wasn't necessarily sure if it was Knut either. Hard to say since whoever/whatever it was didn't appear to have a face anymore. I know the IMDB comments section is usually filled with a bunch of crackpots, but I did go there to see if anybody had anything useful to say. Someone did mention that in a making of featurette it shows the guy at the end was one of the Russians. I don't know if that's true, as it's October and we don't have time for extras!

I also feel like there might be some type of cultural significance in saunas (in general, not specifically the one in this movie) that might have some type of bearing on this movie, one of those things that might be so ingrained in the culture that they don't even see a need to explain it, if that makes any sense.

As I said in the general discussion thread, I'm looking forward to more discussion on this, so people can help me understand it.

Last edited by clckworang; 10-14-11 at 02:49 PM.
Old 10-14-11, 02:47 PM
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Re: "Sauna" Reviews/Discussion - 2011 Horror Challenge: Day 14

^ Yeah, perhaps it was the Russian that killed his colonel (or whatever).
Old 10-14-11, 11:32 PM
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Re: "Sauna" Reviews/Discussion - 2011 Horror Challenge: Day 14

Sauna is a picture that festered in my mind for a good while after my initial viewing two Decembers ago. I didn't know what to expect going in, but I came out thinking that this was one of the most intriguing horror films I had seen in years. The film boasts a strong period setting and some effectively unsettling moments (all about that first time Knut catches a glimpse of a figure across the swamp) set against a mood of pure despair. The acting is resoundingly strong across the board, most notably that of Ville Virtanen as the bloodthirsty Eerik. His character is that of a murderous sociopath who has never known anything but war, yet Virtanen instills the part with a certain sense of empathy and regret underneath the seething hatred. I'm still not sure that I fully understand everything that goes on in the film, and I've really enjoyed speculating. There are numerous layers here to keep your mind busy with interpretation. All in all, it's a fascinating film that is rewarding in more ways than I can count.

I believe the faceless being at the end is Musko, the Russian soldier who had a thing for Knut. Remember, he's telling his captain that his love promised to spend eternity with him if he did a horrible thing. I believe he was there to prevent Eerik's attempt at redemption, which was to save the girl. Only, his sins weren't washed away, he would not be redeemed. In essence, Knut was another of Eerik's victims. He was damned by what had transpired and became the vessel through which the sauna acted. Wether he was more prone to the influences of the sauna because of his severe guilt, or that he was simply weaker and wouldn't take action against the evils he witnessed his brother commit. The number of people in the village mirroring the number of those Eerik had killed could suggest that this was a sort of purgatory. They all disappeared after being cleansed, thus making entry into the underworld.

Really though, just some random possibilities, nothing I can say with absolute certainty. This film has stayed with me in a way that only a truly haunting piece of work could. I think this one deserves far more attention than it's received, thus why I chose it for the subset.
Old 10-15-11, 02:06 AM
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Re: "Sauna" Reviews/Discussion - 2011 Horror Challenge: Day 14

I don't know if you've ever been hit in the face really hard, but when the blow is delivered, everything goes cockeyed. Your vision becomes skewed, your hearing becomes muffled or goes out completely, and it's hard to tell which way is up. Everything looks and sounds strange, and it takes a few seconds for you to figure out what familiar objects even are. You may be looking at a chair, but you're thinking "What is that thing? I know what that thing is...I've seen it before...it's called a...a...a CHAIR." After you suffer a fierce blow to the noggin, it often takes several minutes for you to get your equilibrium back. The world just doesn't make sense for a while. All of this stands as a preface to my thoughts on Sauna, a Finnish film that scrambled my brains in a way very, very similar to the way a concussion-force blow does. As I write this, it's been about a half-hour since I finished watching Sauna, and I still don't feel like I've gotten my land legs back. The film's plot concerns a Russian/Swedish group sent to draw up new borders for their countries after the end of a war between them. Their mission takes them through the middle of a swamp, where they find a village that has a sauna nearby. There's something not quite right about the village, but there's something very wrong indeed about the sauna. I'd love to tell you more, but I'm not sure exactly what I've seen. I haven't felt so mind-raped by a film since Lars von Trier's Antichrist. As with Antichrist, I'm not exactly sure what I've just experienced, but I know that I like it. This is a challenging film that's not for everyone (or even most people), but those who stick with it and don't mind having to think while watching a movie will be rewarded, even though it might take two or three viewings to unravel its mysteries.
Old 10-15-11, 06:28 AM
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Re: "Sauna" Reviews/Discussion - 2011 Horror Challenge: Day 14

You don't generally find horror films that rely on an atmosphere of dread to scare the audience, but Sauna really works by steadily ratcheting up the tension until it gets to the final scene in the sauna and then the very end in the woods. I have to confess that I didn't understand the end of the film.
Old 10-15-11, 07:07 AM
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Re: "Sauna" Reviews/Discussion - 2011 Horror Challenge: Day 14

Rbrown, I'd like to hear the story of when you were punched in the face.

Great comments everyone, and a fantastic choice J. Farley!
Old 10-16-11, 02:00 AM
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Re: "Sauna" Reviews/Discussion - 2011 Horror Challenge: Day 14

Trevor, the first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: you DO NOT talk about Fight Club!








(I never said "punched." Actually, I was hit from an errant swing with a baseball bat when I was a kid. Not too exciting, huh?)
Old 10-16-11, 08:06 AM
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Re: "Sauna" Reviews/Discussion - 2011 Horror Challenge: Day 14

Originally Posted by rbrown498 View Post
(I never said "punched." Actually, I was hit from an errant swing with a baseball bat when I was a kid. Not too exciting, huh?)
I once accidentally hit my cousin in the head with a bat when he walked behind me during a swing. Jason?
Old 10-19-11, 07:08 AM
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Re: "Sauna" Reviews/Discussion - 2011 Horror Challenge: Day 14

Well, I'll be the anti high school AP English honors student (you guys must have all been the teacher's pet in that class) and state that this movie bored me to tears. I didn't and couldn't try to make sense of it because I was either too bored with the film or I was fighting myself to stay awake. It's a pretty film and well-shot and well acted but I guess I am too "average movie-goer" for horror films that I enjoy. This movie did nothing for me (except help me sleep well last night...which is the ultimate insult to a horror film).

My rating: *1/2 out of *****
Old 10-19-11, 09:11 AM
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Re: "Sauna" Reviews/Discussion - 2011 Horror Challenge: Day 14

Originally Posted by brianluvdvd View Post
Well, I'll be the anti high school AP English honors student (you guys must have all been the teacher's pet in that class)
Actually, I used to be the teacher in that class.

I guess that I have a pretty high tolerance for inscrutability, as long as there are enough hints at meaning to keep me gnawing at the bone of understanding. I think that Sauna and the earlier subset film Santa Sangre both have enough surface-level meaning to get a viewer through an initial viewing, but there's enough subtext and (probably deliberate) obfuscation to reward repeat viewers with further insights.
Old 10-19-11, 09:30 AM
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Re: "Sauna" Reviews/Discussion - 2011 Horror Challenge: Day 14

Um...okay. What did you just say again? No, I'm not asleep. I'm listening. Keep going. I'm fascinated.
Spoiler:
Old 10-19-11, 11:51 AM
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Re: "Sauna" Reviews/Discussion - 2011 Horror Challenge: Day 14

Brian, I know you were at least partially going for humor and/or sarcasm, but I don't think you're "too average". I'm sure that you occasionally like films similar to this where things are "inscrutable" (great word rbrown!).

I think with most people, how we react to a film depends on multitudes of temporary factors. I know I have days where I could have seen it for the first time and posted exactly what you did regarding Sauna. Some days I'm more open to weird, or artsy, or gore, or unlikable characters, or sappy moments, or musicals, or whatever; and some days I could hate those elements.

Not sure if that makes sense, made similar comments in a recent horror thread I think.
Old 10-20-11, 12:02 PM
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Re: "Sauna" Reviews/Discussion - 2011 Horror Challenge: Day 14

Aw, Trevor, you sweetie.
Old 10-20-11, 12:26 PM
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Re: "Sauna" Reviews/Discussion - 2011 Horror Challenge: Day 14

Originally Posted by brianluvdvd View Post
Aw, Trevor, you sweetie.
Hopefully my fiancée isn't snooping here. I haven't told her about us.

But seriously, if I'm sweet perhaps it's vanilla flavored. In most areas of life I see nothing as black and white, am open to changing my mind, and can play the devils advocate all the time.

Only things I'm sure about are my faith and that Monty Python rules.

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