6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Very Entertaining Suspenseful Comedy--3 1/2 Stars
, January 20, 2009
This review is from: The Substitute (DVD)
Part of the Ghost House Underground series of horror movies, THE SUBSTITUTE isn't a horror movie at all. Instead it's a suspense-filled comedy filmed in Denmark. The movie revolves around a 6th grade boy named Carl (Jonas Wandschneider). Carl was recently involved in a car accident in which he was injured and his mother was killed. Carl and his father, Jesper (Ulrich Thomsen) seem to be getting by, but inside each struggles with the death of their matriarch. At school, Carl's teacher takes a suspended leave of absence and the class is presented with their substitute teacher for the rest of the term, Ms. Ulla (Paprika Steen). Ms. Ulla is a strict disciplinarian who knows which buttons to push to keep students quite and get them upset. She seems capable of reading the students' minds and after a series of bizarre events, Carl and his classmates suspect Ulla isn't who she claims to be and soon discover that she's really an alien bent on world domination. Ulla wants to take the students on a field trip to Paris for what she claims is an opportunity to compete in a prestigious academic competition. The students know otherwise and attempt to convince the adults of what they already know before they leave for the trip and Ulla's plan is set in motion.
THE SUBSTITUTE was directed and co-written by the Ole Bornedal. Bornedal has a unique talent of making surreal films that aren't just entertaining, but are based in reality, have a moral foundation, and deliver social commentary. THE SUBSTITUE captivated my attention from the opening scene when a vortex through space opens and a silver sphere crashes to Earth, smashing into a chicken. That scene is hilarious and that dark humor is used throughout the movie. There isn't anything really horrific about the film and the overall mood of the film feels like a teenage mystery story.
My only complaint about the DVD is that the copy I had the film was only available in dubbed English. About 3/4th of the movie the dubbing was okay, not great, but good enough to get by. However, there are moments in the film where the dubbing is atrocious. For instance, I think Carl's sister and the smart girl in his class were dubbed by the same annoying female voice. If you can find a copy of the movie with the original Danish being spoken with subtitles in English, that's the way to watch it.
Overall, THE SUBSTITUE is an enjoyable suspense-comedy with some great visuals (especially considering the low budget of the movie).
The special features on the DVD include a commentary with Ole Bornedal and a trailer gallery of all 8 of the Ghost House Underground movies.
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