Lycanthropy has rarely been more lethargic than in When Animals Dream, a dreamy Danish import about a young girl who responds to the discovery that she’s a werewolf by pouting and brooding a lot.
A weird chest-spot is the first indication to Marie (Sonia Suhl) that something’s not right with her body, though it’s only after she reads through the notes on her wheelchair-bound and comatose mother that she realizes she’s inherited a terribly hairy curse. This revelation forces Marie to re-evaluate her feelings about her father (Lars Mikkelsen) — who endeavors to protect her mother from townspeople aware of the family’s supernatural secret — as well as to mull both a romance with a new co-worker (Jakob Oftebro) and some revenge against the other colleagues who humiliate and sexually harass her.
Avoiding the genre’s typical werewolfism-as-puberty metaphors, director Jonas Alexander Arnby instead casts his material as a drawn-out character study — the problem being that his characters are all one-note dullards, which turns his slow, portent-heavy drama into a giant slog. Even the climactic explosion of carnage is staged with muted detachment, as if the film thought itself too good to indulge in the very sort of bloody mayhem its premise promises.
When Animals Dream
Directed by Jonas Alexander Arnby
Opens August 28