Film review – The Ringmaster (2018)

Starring Anne Bergfeld, Karin Michelsen and Damon Younger

Directed by Sorel Juul Petersen

This Danish/English language chiller is a film of two halves. The first is a compelling thriller reminiscent of classic 1970s offering And Soon the Darkness.

It centres on Agnes Berger and her colleague Belinda Andersen, who are working the night shift at a petrol station. Their backstories are fleshed out, and we start to like the fractious relationship between the duo. Intercut are scenes of what’s to come, and it doesn’t bode well.

So after that compelling build up, when we root for the duo and we want things to work out well, it becomes just another torture porn thriller, with Damon Younger giving a compelling turn as the eponymous bad guy.

The heroines become the terrorised stars of a show streamed on the dark web. Held captive by a sadistic ringmaster and his colleagues, Agnes and Belinda’s survival instincts are pushed to the limit as they are forced to play a game of life and death as an unseen audience decide their fate.

Anne Bergfeld is a wonderful lead. Alluring, intelligent and as scream queens go, she’s up there with the best of them. Karin Michelsen is terrific as her fellow victim. For the most part it’s well crafted, tense and a gripping watch, but then it just turns into the worst parts of Hostel, the Saw sequels and all those awful films from a decade ago where film makers thought that watching people being tortured was good horror. It really isn’t. And the fact this is all a hook for a dark webisode is more dated than disco. One scene involving a piercing is so stomach-churning, you may want to go and make a cuppa.

I wish it weren’t so well shot and acted by some of the cast, because there’s half of a great film here. Just a shame 50 per cent is so morally reprehensible. A crying shame.

Cast 8

Art direction 8

Script 7

Editing 8

Cinematography 8

Part one: 8

Part two: 1

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