Finland / 12 minutes / color / Sarastus Dir & Scr: Joonas Einola Pr: Joonas Ranta, Sara Pekonen Cine: Jussi Einola Cast: Heini Haapaniemi, Simo Salo, Elli Maanpää.
A few months ago I devoted an entry here to the independent Finnish neonoir feature movie Anni (2011 DTV), which I enjoyed really quite a lot. Anni‘s director, Joonas Einola, found the entry and contacted me to tell me about his more recent movie—this one. At under 12 minutes, this is a stark and simple tale with just a single line of (repeated) dialogue: “You are not here.” It was, I see from its official website, the winner in the Short Film category at the IIK!! Horror Film Festival.
The hitchhiker (Heini Haapaniemi) awakens.
A young hitchhiker (Haapaniemi) is knocked unconscious and abducted by an ex-soldier (Salo). Waking in his filthy cellar, she finds she’s not his first captive; also there is another young woman (Maanpää), seemingly tormented out of her wits and obsessed with a little figurine of a fairy. Before the hitchhiker can wriggle her way out of her bonds, the captor rapes her. After he’s gone, the first prisoner whispers, seemingly by way of reassurance, “You are not here.”
The captives (Elli Maanpää and Heini Haapaniemi) pass their time watching the fairy.
But the next time he comes into the cellar, it seems the two young woman manage to wrest his gun from him. They start to make an escape, but the first prisoner is apparently wounded too seriously to continue. Alone, the hitchhiker flees through the forest in the direction of help. She trips and falls, and as she picks herself up she sees, lying in the grass, the little fairy figurine . . . and the next time she hears a whispered “You are not here” it offers her no reassurance at all.
The hitchhiker (Heini Haapaniemi) has the drop on her captor . . . or does she?
The movie is quite beautifully made, Jussi Einola’s cinematography in particular being outstanding, and all three actors deliver; Maanpää’s superbly nuanced performance as the seeming imbecile is outstanding. But I’m not 100% convinced by the plot. Here we have what’s essentially the story of The COLLECTOR (1965) stripped down to its absolute basics and then with the whimsy of the fairy layered onto that substrate. All well and good, but what does the fairy really stand for? Is it simply a clichéd image of freedom—the freedom the two women may never enjoy again? Or is it a sort of promise that there may be sufficient magic left in the world to let them escape? Or (and I suspect this is the case) is it just a pretty fancy?
However, as I say, Keiju is visually superb and beautifully put together. It’s under 12 minutes long and you can watch it for free here; I’d strongly recommend you to give it a try.