Psalm 21 is a film about religion and abuse, so to attempt to scarify it with some half-hearted special effects and predictable scares was a significant and ultimately fatal misstep.; a misstep that had me tutting and shaking my head like a grandparent watching anything on BBC3.
Having utilised the scary grey face button, Psalm 21 becomes a derivative and predictable horror; creepy priest? Check. Mad family living in the woods? Check. Oedipal sex scene? Oh goodie. But for all this ticking off of the horror checklist, Psalm 21 is seriously lacking in terms of plot.
Henrik, a priest, (played unevenly by Jonas Malmsjö) begins to see visions, visions of dead people with scary grey faces. Who are they? Who cares. But after learning of his father’s death, Henrik drives out to the country to visit the grave. But ho! What’s this? His car breaks down and he is forced to stay the night with a scary family! A scary family with a dark secret!
From there, the storyline moves away from horror, and towards a strange polemic against organised religion – managing to slip in a quick sex scene which involves Henrik crymaxing whilst having it off with the deceased soul of his mother. Great.
There are a couple of fun moments, the occasional flash of something original or interesting, with a scene in which two fun characters attempt to have a Bible quote-off being one of the jolliest. But on the whole Psalm 21 is tedious, predictable and grimily unpleasant, adding very little to the horror genre, or Swedish cinema as a whole.
It’s difficult not to compare all Scandinavian cinema to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, but to see how serious themes such as murder and sexual abuse are handled well, watch that instead.