The 12th Man is based on a true story, which always brings its own kind of horror. This is more of a survival thriller, but the horror of it all is very real.

The 12th Man is one of those real-life stories that seemed destined to become a movie.

Not only because it’s so amazing (and almost unbelievable) that it seems like it was thought up in Hollywood. No, it’s actually because it seems like we need to be reminded of our own resilience.

Also, we need to be reminded of history to ensure it doesn’t repeat itself. All of this and so much more is what makes The 12th Man a very relevant movie. The end result is also one Hell of an intense story which I’m glad I witnessed.

You can watch the trailer for The 12th Man right here or continue reading our review below.

Real-life horror

Even though the story in The 12th Man takes place during World War 2, the focus isn’t really on Nazis as such. It could have been any war, where a country is occupied and people try to fight back. Or at least resist in some form.

Also, we get to see those that don’t. The ones that want to be on the side of those in power – even if it means going against your own friends and family.

But really, the story in The 12th Man is about two men; The hunter and the hunted. The hunter is a Nazi soldier, who prides himself on always catching “his man”. The hunted is the Norwegian resistance soldier, who works with the British to sabotage the Nazi occupation of Norway.

As a Dane, I relate easily to this part. I may not be old enough (far from it, thank you very much) to remember anything from World War 2. However, I do have relatives that lived during this time. In that sense, it really does feel strangely close.

The real-life horror of stories from World War 2 has been told ever since the war ended. Of course, they’re told from the perspective of the victors, but it seems like we’re allowed to see everyone as people more.

To me, this only adds to the horror; This isn’t some Freddy or Jason villain, they are simply mortal human beings.

The 12th Man - review - thriller

A surreal nightmare

I’ve seen people compare The 12th Man to The Revenant. I don’t really think that’s fair to either movie. Still, both feature actors going through some very intense experiences.

For The 12th Man, the lead role as Jan Baalsrud is portrayed by Thomas Gullestad, who lost 33 pounds for this role. He also suffered frost damage to his hands. The end result is very impressive and Thomas Gullestad plays the desperation and heart perfectly.

What he goes through is the most surreal nightmare. Both literally and figuratively. While he’s sick with fever from gangrene, he has the most insane nightmares which we get to experience very elegantly.

Also, Jonathan Rhys Myers does an excellent job portraying the Nazi soldier hunting Jan Baalsrud. Jonathan Rhys Myers only speaks German in this movie, which is no small feat, since he doesn’t actually speak the language.

There are hints of an accent (he sounds a bit Austrian every now and then), but overall, he does an excellent job. Both as far as the language and portrayal go.

Watch it for the intensity and hope

When you watch a movie like The 12th Man, you already know how the story will end before it begins. It’s the same with a movie like Titanic, but you still want to see how we get to the end. That’s why you should watch this movie as well. For the hope, you will feel from the beginning till the end. Even when things look extremely bad!

The movie is directed by Dutch director Harald Zwart. Previously, he directed movies such as The Karate Kid (2010) and The Mortal Instruments (2013), so he’s tried his hand at several genres.

To me, the work Harold Zwart did on The 12th Man shows he has a talent for this particular niche, so hopefully, he’ll do more in the genre.

The 12th Man will be released on Friday, May 4 in New York and Los Angeles, as well as on Digital and On Demand platforms, with a national theatrical rollout to follow.


Director: Harald Zwart
Writer: Petter Skavlan (as Alex Boe)
Cast: Thomas Gullestad, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Marie Blokhus, Mads Sjøgård Pettersen, Vegar Hoel, Håkon T. Nielsen


Norway, 1943: after a failed anti-Nazi sabotage mission leaves his eleven comrades dead, Norwegian resistance fighter Jan Baalsrud finds himself on the run from the Gestapo through the snowbound Arctic reaches of Scandinavia. It’s a harrowing journey across unforgiving, frozen wilderness that will stretch on for months—and force Jan to take extreme action in order to survive.

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard
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