“I’m transforming into a monster.  Do you think you can help me?”

In a mere two days, you will be able to see the newest body horror film from Denmark in theaters and through Video on Demand.  When Animals Dream, directed by Jonas Alexander Arnby and written by Rasmus Birch, has, so far, gotten mixed reviews from American audience members who saw it at the Fantasia International Film Festival and Cannes Film Festival last year.  While several reviewers described the film as “Let The Right One In meets Ginger Snaps“, others were not impressed.  Dennis Harvey, of Variety, describes it as an “overly mannered Danish horror drama” and writes “The offbeat take on genre elements will inevitably tempt offshore buyers…but this feature debut for Danish helmer Jonas Alexander Arnby and scenarist Rasmus Birch is a somewhat pretentious exercise that feels longer than its 85-minute running time.” Stephen Dalton (The Hollywood Reporter) adds, “Essentially a sensitive coming-of-age story with a high body count and a dash of hot werewolf sex, When Animals Dream may prove to be too tastefully Scandinavian for hardcore horror fans and too pulpy for arty European cinephiles.”

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Hard to believe that a werewolf film (rare in this day and age) with such a chilling trailer could garner any negative responses.  The film, starring Sonia Suhl, boasts the following summary:

Teenage Marie lives on a small island with her father and catatonic mother. Virtually friendless and sullen, Marie begins to experience frightening changes in her body that mark her as a dangerous threat.

As Dalton aptly states, “When Animals Dream is not the first film to use lycanthropy folklore as an allegory for patriarchal anxieties about female puberty, sexuality and empowerment.” Many films, especially in the horror genre, are thinly veiled allegories about patriarchal anxieties about women (Carrie and Ginger Snaps are but two examples).  But what makes When Animals Dream stand out? Meredith Borders, a writer for Birth. Movies. Death. is one of the few reviewers who seems to have an unbridled admiration of the film.  Borders writes:

Marie, for all her outward tranquility, appears to harbor deep recesses of rage at the very idea that she should have to hide who she is, as her mother has been forced to hide for years. She isn’t ashamed of what she’s becoming, and she resents her father, her doctor and the entire town for implying that she should be. She sees the waste her once-vibrant mother has become in the pursuit of normalcy, and Marie doesn’t want that for herself. She wants to be different, to be vicious, to be what others might consider ugly. And of course, once the transformation finally occurs, once we see Marie in full sunlight (the rules here are nebulous and unimportant), wholly changed into the monster she once feared becoming – she is beautiful. She doesn’t look like anyone else, and that is beautiful.

When Animals Dream has been out for about a year in Europe, and thus, reviews for the film are all over the World Wide Web.  However, like many things in life, the only way to form a true opinion about something is to experience it yourself.  When Animals Dream will be released August 28 of this year.  Two trailers are included below.  I’ll be watching this movie when it comes out.  Will you?



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