THE UNCLE is a dark comedy that plays out very much like psychological horror. This is a genre movie from Croatia (org. title: Stric) and the story is so universal that it could easily get a remake. Screening at Fantastic Fest 2023 where we caught it. Read our full The Uncle movie review here!
THE UNCLE is a new genre movie from Croatia (org. title: Stric) that’s screening at Fantastic Fest 2023, which is how we screened it. And we’re very happy that we did because this movie is terrifying brilliance. For the longest time, you won’t know exactly what’s going on, but you will feel how uncomfortable the main characters are.
Also, you will know that something is extremely off. While this movie is described as a “dark comedy” it’s much more brutal than that. For me, this could just as easily be labeled a psychological horror movie.
Continue reading our The Uncle movie review below. We’ll be sure to update this review when the film moves from film festivals to a wider release.
When every day is Christmas
In The Uncle, it’s Christmas every day, but no matter how much you might love Christmas, you wouldn’t want this kind of Christmas. The food is the same day in and day out, the presents are the same, and even the words spoken are the same. All in order to please a visiting relative: The title character.
This uncle is a strange man, and he acts in highly inappropriate ways. Going “off script” is not allowed and enthusiasm is mandatory. Day in and day out. How long this has been going on is impossible to gauge, but based on the turkey carcasses, it’s been quite some time.
It’s like Groundhog Day, but everyone knows that they’re simply forced to act out this Christmas Eve scenario over and over again. And yet, we [the audience] will learn as well. Before we do, however, we will already understand that it’s not something anyone really enjoys.
The family – father, mother, and son – does not enjoy their uncle’s presence. You won’t have to experience his behavior for long before you understand why.
Welcome to 1980s Yugoslavia
Another strange thing about the events unfolding in The Uncle is the setting. We’re in 1980s Yugoslavia, but we’re also clearly not. The family is simply forced into this setting, while the title character has things in his possession that reveal the truth. Also, this uncle is constantly speaking very highly of Germany which is where he supposedly returns from for Christmas constantly.
The filmmakers managed to get someone who could recreate the ‘80s era in Yugoslavia to perfection. The wardrobe, car, house, electronic devices. Everything just screams the 1980s. It’s both amazing and absurd in all its strange and mysterious ways.
While having a strong story and the right setting is key to setting the stage, the small cast of The Uncle has to really sell this story. Fortunately, the actors in this Croatian genre-mix deliver intense and breathtaking performances. Each of the characters struggles with the situation in different ways and even takes it out on each other.
Ivana Roščić is the mother, Goran Bogdan (Netflix movie Faraway) is the father, and Roko Sikavica is the son. You’ll see these three the most, but obviously, it’s their interaction with the title character that really hits hard. Miki Manojlović (The Bra) plays the titular role of the uncle (or “stric”). Fans of Emir Kusturica’s movies (Arizona Dream, 1993) may recognize Manojlović from some of his work.
Watch The Uncle / Stric as soon as you can!
The Uncle is written and directed by Croatian filmmakers David Kapac and Andrija Mardešić. It’s a debut and an amazing one at that. Managing to always keep the absurdity in check is no small feat. Because yes, the situation in this movie is absurd, but there is method to its madness. You should know as much based on the tension that transcends everything from the very beginning.
This genre hybrid has been playing at film festivals all over the world ever since its world premiere at a Czech film festival (Karlovy Vary Film Festival) in July of 2022. It has also won several awards already, which it very much deserves. This includes awards for acting, production, and the overall “Best Film” awards and nominations at film festivals.
Whether you want to call this a dark comedy, psychological horror, thriller mystery, or a hybrid that includes all of it (which it is), you will definitely want to watch this Croatian genre movie. As mentioned in the Fantastic Fest press material, it certainly does leave “audiences in need of a strong drink”. Do not miss out on this one!
The Uncle (org. title: Stric) is currently screening at Fantastic Fest 2023.
Directors: David Kapac & Andrija Mardešić
Writers: David Kapac & Andrija Mardešić
Cast: Predrag ‘Miki’ Manojlovic, Goran Bogdan, Ivana Roscic, Roko Sikavica, Kaja Sismanovic
A family prepares for their uncle’s Christmas visit, but the festivities are dampened by the fact that he’ll return in a few days to celebrate again.