Hour of the Wolf

Hour of the Wolf ★★★★

As Bergman's foray into the horror genre, Hour of the Wolf is extremely patient with its buildup to the climax, where all-out absurdism finally comes to claim the ultimate horror status of this largely meditative take on trauma, guilt as well as the draining nature of being an "artist". It may not be Bergman's most acclaimed work, but it's for sure worth checking out simply for the pure curiosity of seeing Bergman doing his version of an anti-horror that's simply unrepeatable in cinema history.

Hour of the Wolf is highly symbolic with its cryptic messages, as is the case with most of Bergman's filmography. In this unassuming tale with sinister undercurrents, a painter, Johan, who live on an isolated island with his wife, is constantly tormented by painful memories both in vivid dreams, and in reality in the form of a group of rich castle-dwellers who seem to harbor sinister intentions. We are only provided with glimpses of scattered clues regarding the nature of such fear, from childhood abuses, to an older lover Johan still cares about. Max von Sydow was such a formidable presence in this deeply intimate character study, as he executed those complicated emotions with his admirable acting chops and immense personal charms.

Hour of the Wolf is not a traditional horror classic by any sense, as there aren't really many elements of gore, murder or jump scare that are characteristic of such genre. Instead it's still pretty much within Bergman's comfort zone, namely a highly philosophical, thoughtful experience that deals with human conditions, albeit this time with more nightmarish absurdism to shake things up a bit, or a lot. Highly recommended.

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