Dir. Jonas Trukanas (2022)
During a high school graduation party, the class destroys life-size folk statues, after which they find themselves being stalked and killed one by one.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Quick side note before we dig in: apparently the original title of the film was translated as Pensive but it is being released today on Screambox as We Might Hurt Each Other. If you're looking for details on the film from sites like IMDb, search for the film under that name or Rupintojelis, it's original Lithuanian title.
I've made it no secret in my reviews that I'm a big fan of Screambox and their chosen filmography, and Bloody Disgusting has done a great job of curating an alternative to Shudder's arguably more well-known brand. We Might Hurt Each Other is just another in a long line of great choices for their streaming service and it absolutely blew me away. Lithuania is a country that is almost devoid of horror films, with the first genre film in the country's history not being made until 2014. There are literally only a handful of horror films that have ever been made in their country, and the fact that they could make one this good with such little experience is tremendously impressive.
First-time feature director Jonas Trukanas delivers an incredibly original slasher, something that doesn't feel possible for a subgenre with so much history, and he does so by combining Lithuanian folklore and superstition with traditional slasher elements. A graduating high school class , one of whom is going to be drafted into the NBA, have a party planned when things fall through. Unpopular loser Marius (Sarunas Rapolas Meliesius) decides to invite the class to a cabin that his mother has been unable to sell for years, and the group decides to throw a giant rave in the field complete with grilled kebabs and pulsing dance music. Marius hopes to win the affections of Brigita (Gabija Bargailaite), the current girlfriend of NBA hopeful Rimas (Kipras Masislauskas), and is planning on using the party as a way to let her know his true feelings for her. When the group decides to use folk art carvings as firewood, the deranged man who carved them decides to do to the young teens whatever they have done to his statues.
What is at times a rumination on the dark origins of folk art and a coming-of-age story that is applicable the world over quickly turns into a straight-up slasher, complete with some jaw-dropping kills, dark humor, and a slightly twisty ending. Trukanas is colossally talented, taking inspiration from the old-school American slasher films from decades ago and crafting some new twists of his own. The killer, a Lithuanian approximation of a Cropsey-like figure, is creepy and could easily become the face of a franchise if they decided to make a sequel. Meliesius is excellent as the brooding and strange Marius, but every single part is acted with confidence and a genre-defining perspective that is missing from so many of the lower budget, less acclaimed films that carry the slasher designation.
It doesn't take a lot to make a slasher movie. Hell, if you're a fan of the genre like I am, it doesn't even take a lot to make a good slasher movie. But what Trukanas has made here is truly incredible, and while I'm sure it won't be everyone's cup of tea, it's one of my favorite films of the year so far. What could have easily been an easily-written off film with hard-to-read subtitles instead became an inspired film that proves that the slasher genre is not only still alive, but that it doesn't need a familiar killer either. Check this one out on Screambox today.
Who this movie is for: Slasher fans, Foreign horror lovers, Bonfire aficionados
Bottom line: I generally try to temper my reviews for slasher movies because I'm such an unabashed fan of the genre, but this is a genuinely good one. While it could've been a bit bloodier, We Might Hurt Each Other has enough gnarly kills and an interesting enough plot to really make some headway with American horror fans. If you're not already subscribed to Screambox, you need to get on that shit, and there's no time like the present because this one debuts today.