A film which fluidly and enigmatically oscillates between introspective character drama and horror film, Erlingur Thoroddsen's Rift is a challenging piece of cinema which tows the line between opaque and convoluted, depending on the perspective of the viewer, delivering a well-crafted piece of cinema which certainly leaves much up to interpretation. Taking place in a beautiful, desolate region of Iceland, Rift is a psychological story about guilt, trauma, and the necessity for honesty, particularly in any close relationship, following Gunnar, who receives a strange phone call from his ex-boyfriend, Einar, who sounds deeply distraught and in serious trouble. Arriving at Einar's cabin, located in a secluded region of Iceland, Gunnar finds his ex holed up, soon learning that things are worse than he even imagined for his old flame. Taking on lots of Horror sensibilities when it comes to overall atmosphere and general aesthetic, Rifts uses the horror genre archetype to tell a tale of fractured relationships, repressed emotions, and unfinished business, being a film that could be explained in a more straight-forward, horror way, yet it much more interesting if viewed through the lens of psychological symbolism, where everything is through the perspective of Gunnar, our main protagonist. A film which is very layered in its characterizations, Rift takes its time stripping away the protective coating of these characters who've only been out of a relationship for three months, symbolically revealing a story of remorse in which Gunnar lost Einar to suicide several months ago. While many are sure to disagree with my heavily symbolic, psychological assertions about Rift, the film simply works far better through this lens, as otherwise it feels like a much larger mess about a killer on the loose, whose motivations and general stature in the film leave a lot to be desire. Throughout Rift there are subtle hints that what we are being presented may not be objective reality, with seemingly everything being through the eyes of Gunnar. There is a mysterious sense of danger and intrigue which haunts and terrifies Gunnar, yet he seems to be the only one that even notices these horrors. Eignar himself feels supernatural at times, oblivious to Gunnar's concerns about lurking danger, arguably being presented through the lens of Gunnar - a deeply damaged character, an alcoholic mess whose traumatic past seems to leave him on the edge of suicide. The key to this argument, that much of what transpires in Rift is a psychological, a figment of the imagination, lies in Gunnar's interactions with Eignar's neighbor, a character who repeatedly challenges Gunnar's reality through her perspective, making the viewer very skeptical of whether what we have been experiencing is truly objective reality. This lurking sense of danger which encapsulates the film, and is constantly rebutted by this neighbor, starts to resemble the guilt which Gunnar feels for not being a more empathetic companion to Eignar, with him psychologically manifesting Eignar as a coping mechanism for dealing with the malfeasance he feels centered Eignar's death, something which is hinted at in the very beginning. Capturing the absolute necessity of being honest, open, and empathetic towards the one you love, Erlingur Thoroddsen's Rift is a enigmatic genre-bender which analyzes fractured relationships, repressed trauma, and remorse through a highly symbolic lens.
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