Cave, the latest film by Henrik Martin Dahlsbakken, is neither for the claustrophobic or hydrophobic. The film has packed enough anxiety into its ninety-minute time-frame to make you believe you are deep in the cave in rural Norway. The films young director proves just how talented he is at capturing a minimalistic, unique and very Norwegian story.

The narrative is simple enough. Viktor, Adrian and Charlie (the incredibly strong female lead) all served together in the special forces in Afghanistan. Charlie and Viktor used to be lovers, but now Charlie is dating Adrian. The three decide to venture out into the Norwegian wilderness and explore a hidden, mysterious and submerged cave system far out in the forest. The three of them are unaware of what awaits them in the cave as they work together as a team to make it through the clearly difficult hike.

The story itself is fast and efficient when it comes to placing elements of the story in relation to one another, while further developments are indicated with sparse dialogue. While the background of the characters is not as developed as it could’ve been, the present tense is perfectly depicted. The script is highly suggestive and fairly minimalistic, and this works well for the story. The actors face very real challenges and exceed expectations with ease.

The highlight of this film is the wild, distinctive nature. The camera really makes uses of the scenery around it, and this is a true delight. The outdoor scenes were filmed in the natural surroundings of Norway, including Trollstigen, Jotunheimen and Fauske, with the indoor cave scenes partially filmed in Mexican caves.

Overall, Cave is an exciting and claustrophobic thriller with extremist tendencies. The film is well shot, skilfully played and effectively told throughout most of the playing time. Henrik Martin Dahlsbakken has a natural talent for Norwegian film-making. Over the last twelve months from him we’ve seen Returning Home, which won the top prize at the Nordic Film Days, Last Summer, which premiered just two months ago, and now Cave is about to hit cinemas after closing the Norwegian Film Festival. We really believe it should have opened it. Dahlsbakken’s gift for minimalistic yet tense Norwegian cinema has made him one of the most exciting directors to watch, and Cave is a perfect example of why.

CategoriesIssue 15 Reviews
Emma Vestrheim

Emma Vestrheim is the editor-in-chief of Cinema Scandinavia. Originally from Australia, she is now based in Bergen, Norway, and attends major Nordic film festivals to conduct interviews and review new films.