I couldn't tell from what I'd read whether this film was going to work or not. It took on an interesting set of issues (well this was a good enough movie to allow us all to find our on values and issues in it). Erik's girlfriend sort of leaves him, but she seems to be needy enough that she wants to put him on hold until she finds something better, for a weekend of medieval role playing in the woods. We get some substantial issues to deal with: what is real and what is fantasy as Erik, when he finally decides to go after Evalyn, is told he can't enter the game out of costume. He fights entering into the game - he first goes in wearing street clothes, he refuses to talk in the mock epic jargon of the role players, he doesn't want to take an oath to Viking gods, and constantly tells people, "I'm not playing the fucking game," he's just there to rescue Lynn, who is now captive Princess Evalynia. Slowly he gets sucked into his role as a Viking warrior come to rescue the Princess.
This can be a metaphor for all sorts of things - what is reality - back home in the city with the cars or in the fantasy ancient world in the forest? The modern world's loss of spirituality, connection to lofty speech and noble ideals? A critique of modern warfare and armies as just a bunch of young men who get too full of themselves?
For me Evalyn was just a confused young soul, lost in between girlhood and womanhood, searching for her identity amongst a bunch of sexually frustrated young males. I didn't think she was worth the lengths Erik was prepared to go to rescue her. Or was he simply rescuing himself and she was simply a symbol of his own self worth?
A lot was thrown up in the mix. Ultimately, it didn't work for me. But it's a great movie for a film festival - the film makers got to practice a lot of technical and narrative ideas and it has a lot of interesting parts. Presumably their next project will reflect what they learned doing this one. And they sent a great trailer in which Erik's brother, in costume on a bridge over a freeway, invoked the Viking deities for the opening of the film festival.
Unfortunately, my bias against watching graphic violence, didn't help at the end. I didn't watch, but I could hear the gasps of others in the audience. Someone seems to be making sure we have a movie every year where someone gets his head bashed in on a rock. I wished they'd just let us know which one it is before hand.
Here's some audience reaction after the showing.
I caught Kelly (the first one on the video) after he'd already been talking and I'm not sure the snippet I got is clear. I understand his issue to be that the opening movie should not be one that is in competition for an award. That featuring it the first night puts it at an advantage? Last year's opening movie was a very good Russian blockbuster, Hipsters, that cost about $30 million and won the best feature award. His point was that at a film festival, such a movie shouldn't be in competition with artier, less commercial, lower budget films. But they make perfectly good opening night films.