dir. Jonas Trukanas
A class of newly graduated high-schoolers let off steam at an end of year rave in this Lithuanian slasher. Among them Marius (Sarunas Rapolas Meliesius) is a quiet student who – despite having friends – feels like an outcast, certainly in contrast to peers like star athlete Rimas (Kipras Masidlauskas) who’s in a relationship with Marius’ crush, Brigita (Gabija Bargailaite). So when Rimas’ party venue falls through, Marius is the one to suggest a remote rural cottage that was previously the site of a tragic fire which consumed a whole family, apart from the father. As the class arrive they discover the cottage is surrounded by wooden folk carvings, so when they vandalise these a masked stranger attacks, picking them off in the same manner as they defaced the statues.
Inspired by the Pensive Jesus statues that can be found throughout the Baltic States, Trukanas’ feature debut focuses on judgement and the fear of being judged, particularly portrayed through the eyes of teenagers, a section of society whose whole hierarchy is arguably based on the perspective of others. Following a well-trodden slasher dynamic, Pensive then is certainly enjoyable once the murder and gore are set in motion, an ode to the 1980s with Marius as an off-kilter final boy that viewers cannot help but not root for. However the film doesn’t develop the narration of its antagonist, and seemingly skirts the edges of its folk horror leanings; and without setting the villain’s origin story in stone it becomes unfortunately bland.
Overall then Pensive is an entertaining and satisfyingly gory slasher combining over-the-top kills with characters similarly to TV show Skins.
© Ygraine Hackett-Cantabrana