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False Trail

False Trail

Released 28 December 2012
Director Kjell Sundvall

Peter Stormare, Rolf Lassgard, Annika Nordin, Kim Tjernstrom, Lo Kauppi, Jesper Barkselius

Bjorn Carlstrom, Stefan Thunberg

Bjorn Carlstrom, Per Janérus, Peter Possne
Origin Sweden
Running Time 125 minutes
Genre Crime, mystery, thriller
Rating 16

The wild hunt.

With the recent surge in popularity of Scandinavian police procedurals like The Killing, it only makes sense that the Norse folk would spread the wings of their fledgling cinema industry and capitalise on this newfound fame. Thus, we have False Trail; quasi-sequel to 1996 Swedish thriller Jagarna (The Hunters). But while that project’s director Kjell Sundvall takes the reins here once more, he wisely chooses not to linger on the past and presents a new story (probably knowing full well that half his target audience won’t have seen his previous effort, myself included). Although the title “Jagarna 2” pops up in the film’s opening shots, you won’t be lost among the plethora of twists and turns, hard-bitten characters and harsh settings. You will however lose interest due to the film’s clunky and overwrought run time. At well over two hours, you’ll be wanting out long before the end, despite all the marks of a fine whodunit thriller.

When a Twin Peaks style murder of a young woman occurs in a Swedish hunting town (Scandinavians and their hunting, eh?), police specialist Erik Backstrom (Rolf Lassgard) is sent in from the nation’s capital to poke around and assist the stoic chief of police Torsten (Peter Stormare)- who also happens to be the new live-in dad to his nephew and his widowed sister-in-law. Torsten has gathered enough evidence to pin the crime on the leader of the local methheads, but when Erik proves that he’s a patsy, things begin to heat up in the land of ice and snow and a web of deceit becomes clear.

Peter Stormare is excellent as the unmoveable tyrant, calling to mind the force of nature acting he’s capable of in films like Fargo (in which he chilled to the bone, even with only a handful of lines). Lassgard is also a strong screen presence and the ragged Scandinavian forests make for a fine murder setting. The problems all lie in the film’s length, which truly is a shame, because I was really engrossed for the first hour. The plot twist is all but revealed half way through, and then we’re just waiting around for Erik to gather the evidence needed to bring his perp down. But the true murderer is always (always!) one step ahead and it really becomes dull. Scene after scene is piled on, and at times it felt like I was watching an extended TV serial.

While The Killing is renowned for its taut and effective plot twists, False Trail deals with its own ones ham-handedly, destroying all the good that had been laid down previously. Lets tighten up the screws, Northern brethren.

- Cathal Prendergast