In a desperate attempt to find her lost daughter, Sara applies for a job as a cleaner at a place where her daughter was supposedly lost. As she gets the job, she quickly learns that things are far from normal at her new work place, and the mystery of her lost daughter might be deeper than she ever could imagine.
Henrik Möller is a name I've heard of for years due to his crude animation films - something I made a conscious decision not to watch. It wasn't out of spite or any ill-meaning, I simply never found myself interested in watching them. It's with something like this debut feature, "Lokalvårdaren" (or its English title, which speaks more about the movie but stands out less, "Feed the Light") that I really got curious. It's a low-budget horror from the Southern part of Sweden (made obvious by the accents, of course) that's akin to psychological/supernatural stories like "Session 9".
Storywise it keeps itself somewhat familiar. The whole supernatural activities at a weird place/facility/whatever. Sara takes a job as a cleaner at a strange place where her daughter got lost after following her dad to work (he also works there). She comes to learn that the co-workers are far from the most bizarre things she's about to meet. She hears about "the light" - and a supposed other dimension. It strays away to some interesting places here and there, but mostly it remains easy to follow while still keeping us curious. That's possibly one of the main strengths here, that it's not always easy to predict what will happen next.
My general distaste for modern Swedish cinema doesn't have much to do with the country or language itself. It's as simple as this: we're mostly horrible at making movies. We're unoriginal and unaware of it. When decent ideas come along, they're usually failing elsewhere. "Lokalvårdaren" stood out with its trailer and it gave me some hope for Swedish independent cinema, and I think it's a lot better than movies like "Mara", "Vittra", "Den som söker" and "Marianne" (all recent Swedish horror/thrillers). It shows a lot more talent and originality (despite feeling familiar in story) than the rest, that's for sure.
But what is my overall feeling of the movie? Fact is that I still struggle to fully enjoy it. There are several things that distract me from being fully involved in it. Sometimes it's the characters, sometimes the actors, sometimes it's the few leaps it takes. There are great characters, like Sara herself is quite good, but I'm not entirely sold on the boss character (or the bizarre, nude gimp-like man she has in her office). Acting is also mostly decent, but I felt the dialogue came off as a bit stale or even comedic at times. As for the leaps... well, I'm not entirely sure why certain things happened (and maybe that's on purpose), but without spoiling the scenes I simply felt they brought out more sighs than curiosity.
I'm glad the movie has an experimental approach, but at times it felt like means to add something more of interest to the movie, to give it a little unique touch, rather than fully using the style. Simple things like having blood and the daughter's coat in color when the rest isn't is just an old trick that needs some heavy thought behind it to actually mean something. At the same time though, I feel Henrik Möller certainly does best when the movie gets odd.
I guess I have to take on the role as a grumpy man yet again, and I guarantee that it's not my intentions upon watching Swedish movies. I will be watching more of Henrik Möller if he comes out with more features, I think he has a few great ideas in him and he's a bigger hope for Swedish horror than most filmmakers right now. The cinematography also stands above most low-budget supernatural horrors that I review. "Lokalvårdaren" might not have won me over, but it has a lot that almost all other Swedish horror movies are missing. If you want a decent supernatural mystery then you should give this a shot though!