When the father of a priest dies, he begins to suspect that there is something more to it because of the way he was told. He goes to his home town and ends up with the car dying on him in the middle of the woods. He finds a house and stays with the family there. And soon it's clear that they have something to do with the death of his father.
I must say I am very happy to get rid of the pile of Swedish review copies I had. There was very little of value in the pile, and "Psalm 21" was actually one of the better. It has been talked about heavily recently since it's one of few Swedish horror movies to get attention, and I suppose it is because it is as well made as it is by our standards. And the story isn't too bad either.. At least not some parts of it.
I think the movie started out very good with the priest Henrik finding out that his father, also a priest, has drowned. But he found it weird that it was a doctor calling to tell him about it and not a cop or anything, so he decides to go to his home town and do some investigating. He leaves at night but the car breaks down in the woods, so he has to walk. He finds a road that leads to a house. After some hesitation, and finding out that he was the son of Gabriel, they let him stay at their place while he tries to solve the mystery. But the family is really weird, and the more he looks into it the entire town seems to be hiding something. At the same time Henrik is suffering from nightmares and visions of demons, and he might be on the track of solving both mysteries at the same time.
I did like the movie more when it stayed realistic, and not when the CGI demons appeared. The movie still had tension and a good story to follow, but these damn demons just popped up all the time with the same kind of "jump-scare and then they're gone" effect every time. I much rather would've seen this movie as a thriller instead of trying to make it this psychological/supernatural horror movie that it ended up being. The things he big up about his father were way more interesting than any horror element they could throw into the movie, and by the time I reached the final 30 minutes I wasn't really interested any more. Luckily there was still some of what I liked left, and the movie ends with a pretty cool scene in church that is basicly just a speech.
Jonas Malmsjö plays Henrik really well and for the most part he does a great job. There are ups and downs, of course. Björn Bengtsson as one of the family members is also sticking out from the crowd with his acting and is another strong point. Per Ragnar is an actor I remember being scared of when I used to watch a soap opera, "Tre Kronor", when I was a kid where he played.. again, a fucked up priest. So it was nice to see him almost reprise the role of Sten Frisk.
It's a shamed that they ruined a perfectly fine thriller movie with a bunch of CGI demons and cheap scares. It should have been much more powerful than it was. Instead it gets sidetracked and you never feel satisfied. The ending was a mess and I just can't say I just watched a good movie. The potential was there, but ultimately ruined by being turned into a horror movie for the mainstream Hollywood audience. The demons don't look too bad, but it's standard CGI stuff and nothing that makes the movie any better. There is definitely something in "Psalm 21" to watch, but don't go out of your way to watch it. If you are Swedish I am sure you will have a chance to see it at some point. And if you don't have anything better to do then you might as well watch it. At least the first 30 minutes.