Finale aka The Ringmaster is a Danish horror movie years in the making. It’s finally here and the result has a very high production value. The gorgeous visual style and intense score and sound lift the brutal story!
Finale is a Danish horror movie, we first wrote about years ago. We were fortunate enough to visit the set just as shooting was wrapping up. This was followed by pre-production that dragged on due to financial struggles.
The director, Søren Juul Petersen, has been working relentlessly to finish the movie. And doing so without compromising the quality of the finished product.
Now, the brutal horror movie has finally been released in several countries and the passion of the filmmakers is obvious.
The solution turned out to be a streaming service, but not Netflix this time around. Though who knows, maybe they’ll end up releasing it in other parts of the world. Instead, it was Blockbuster which has evolved into a VOD streaming service competing with (and sometimes beating) iTunes and Amazon in Scandinavia.
Agnes and Belinda as female horror archetypes
The story of Finale takes place on the eve of a huge final of some sort [“finale” is the Danish word for final]. We don’t know exactly when the story takes place or even which sport this final game is in. It doesn’t really matter.
What does matter is the fact that when a small country like Denmark is in the final of anything, then most of the country is watching TV. In fact, the same can be said for Eurovision if it looks like Denmark could win.
Anyway, the point is that the girls taking a night shift at the gas station will be very bored. And more importantly, all alone. This particular gas station is the last one on Danish soil before crossing the border into Germany. This makes is a sort of no-mans-land.
Agnes and Belinda are created as two female archetypes. Agnes is the book-smart and logical type while Belinda is more of a ditzy street-smart girl. The two characters are portrayed rather brilliantly by Anne Bergfeld (Agnes) and Karin Michelsen (Belinda).
The brilliant casting of Finale / The Ringmaster
Karin Michelsen has excellent timing when delivering lines offering comic relief. Also, while Belinda might be a bit paranoid, she’s also the kind of girl who would’ve contemplated what to do when the zombie apocalypse hits. In other words, someone most horror fans can relate to.
Anne Bergfeld is the voice of reason, who tries to keep calm. Basically, she doesn’t scare too easily. As an actress, Anne Bergfeld is also the one who ends up tearing herself apart once our villain, The Ringmaster, gets his hands on her.
We’re talking tears, snot, and saliva in one big mess. Now that’s how you make the horror real. I don’t need some pretty girl who is tortured and only has a small scar and some mascara running down her face. Kudos to the filmmakers for going all out.
Both of these female horror archetypes could be the final girl, but – as the name indicates – only one tends to make it. I will reveal this much; They’re both pretty damn badass towards the end and fight tooth and nail for their lives!
A new horror villain: The Ringmaster
The person inflicting brutality on Agnes and Belinda (among others) is known only as The Ringmaster. He’s played with a delightful intensity by Damon Younger, who’s an actor from Iceland. When he raises his voice, you almost can’t help but sit up a bit straighter and pay attention.
Whether he’s actually the villain of this story is another thing. The story of Finale revolves around a very brutal entertainment show of sorts. So who’s the real villain; The executioner [The Ringmaster] or those giving orders to the executioner?
That’s part of the moral dilemma – and a comment on human nature, in general. As the brutal horrors are inflicted on the girls, we see people commenting online as if it was a Facebook or YouTube live stream. All you have to do is read the comments on any remotely uncomfortable video (or even a horror movie trailer) and you’ll probably recognize most of it.
The storyline in Finale isn’t told chronologically. We know from the very beginning that the girls will be trapped, but keep jumping back to the gas station to see how the evening evolved for Agnes and Belinda. Whether you like this type of flashback storytelling is very individual.
Personally, I enjoyed it since it offered the necessary comic relief and helped us get under the skin of the characters.
Jumpscares with excellent timing
We saw Finale at the official Danish premiere in Denmark, where the movie received quite a bit of applause afterward. It’s not without reason that the biggest applause of the night (apart from the lead actors) was for Director of Photography, Tobias Scavenius.
He has managed to create an absolutely stunning movie that draws you in and keeps you engaged. Apart from the visual style of the movie, the score and the sound are all a level above many other horror movies.
The combination of sound and image is also responsible for creating some awesome jumpscares. When you can almost feel the entire theater jumping in their seats in unison, it has been done right!
And, of course, you know that there’s a jumpscare coming because of the clues through both sound and image. Still, the actual jumpscare hits you at the splitsecond when you let your guard down. It’s actually a thing of real horror beauty!
Created by passion and dedication
Even though the Danish Film Institute has financed part of this movie, it was still a battle to get it finished. Fortunately, Finale was made by people who were passionate about this project. For this reason, many of them are on board as producers.
If it wasn’t for the writer and director of Finale, Søren Juul Petersen, this movie probably never would’ve been completed. The same was the case with the Danish Whispers from the Grave which premiered at the Danish film festival CPH PIX in 2018 but still has no distribution in place.
Blockbuster is also a key sponsor for genre film festivals in this region. Including Night Visions Film Festival in Finland, which premiered Finale the same night as the Danish premiere (November 25, 2018). Also, the VOD streaming service has a huge selection of horror movies.
If you’re in the Nordic region of Europe, you can watch Finale now. We’ll update this review when Finale is released in other countries – or when it’s slated to screen at a film festival somewhere in the world.
Update in 2020: Finale is now called The Ringmaster internationally, and the release date is set for November 16, 2020.
Director: Søren Juul Petersen
Writer: Søren Juul Petersen, Steen Langstrup (book)
Cast: Anne Bergfelt, Karin Michelsen, Damon Younger, Kristoffer Fabricius, Mads Koudal, Kim Sønderholm, Gustav Scavenius
During the night of the biggest sports final of the year, two girls working in a gas station experience strange incidents. Is it just staged pranks or is it something of a more aggressive intent?