Movies · Reviews

Another Hole In The Head 2010: Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre

By  · Published on July 22nd, 2010

The seventh annual Another Hole In the Head Film Festival is currently running in San Francisco from July 8th through the 29th. It’s a genre fest featuring domestic and international horror, sci-fi, and exploitation films, and it just may be the first and last chance to see some of these on the big-screen. There are thirty-two films at the fest this year, and we’re trying to see and cover as many as possible. (And by we I mean me…)

Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre – directed by Julius Kemp, Iceland; upcoming screenings 7/25 9pm, 7/28 7pm

Synopsis: A group of tourists from varied backgrounds arrive on a dock in Iceland for the whale watching trip of a lifetime. Or will it be of a deathtime! Dun dun dun! Anyway, their boat arrives and the group hustles on-board to begin their adventure. Do any of them notice that their ship is being captained by Gunnar Hansen, aka Leatherface? Not a one, which almost makes their fates well deserved doesn’t it? One of the tourists gets drunk and disorderly and causes a tragic accident which leaves them stranded in the cold waters. Lucky for them a nearby fishing boat hears their distress and comes to their aid… unlucky for them the family on the fishing boat have a collection of weapons and other implements just waiting for fresh meat. Knives, guns, and deck-mounted harpoons will be put to good use as everyone’s vacation turns into a slaughter on the high seas.

Check out our review after the jump…

Review: Is it me or do folks who live in traditionally cold countries know a thing or two about making slasher movies? Canada started the trend back in the seventies with Black Christmas and the past few years have seen a solid one-two punch from Norway in the form of two Cold Prey movies. And now Iceland gets into the game, but unlike its predecessors these fine frigid film-makers are bringing along a sense of humor. The wink and a smile (and blood-letting) starts with the title of their first foray into the genre, Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre, and continues with some minor stunt casting, some fun writing, and some good old-fashioned blood and violence.

The setup as described above is straight-forward and as effective as you’d want or need in a slasher flick. Characters are introduced and we get a brief amount of time with each before the Icelandic rednecks (?) show up and start dishing out the pain. We have a couple single women, an Asian couple, a drunkard, a mysterious Black man, and some middle-aged women wearing traveling pants. They’re an odd and eclectic bunch to be sure, and the killers don’t waste any time getting to know their insides… no sooner do the tourists set foot on their “rescue” boat than the icebillies start grinning and slicing throats. The survivors scatter and we’re left with a cat and mouse game through the ship’s hallways and darkly-lit rooms. Most characters in slashers can be identified easily as victims or survivors, but you’d be hard-pressed to win that guessing game here. Some of the tourists band together, others take off on their own, but who does what and who will survive is never a guarantee. It’s a refreshing change from the norm and keeps us guessing and interested all the way through.

It’s difficult to point out deficiencies in the movie since it hits all the right (and expected) notes for a slasher, but there are a couple things. For one, while the characters are varied and provide some laughs little is done to endear us to them in any real way. It’s hard to care what happens to them if we don’t really know enough to care about them. Which of course means we’re not necessarily rooting for them either. The other thing that stands out and can possibly be viewed as a positive or a negative is the complete disregard for political correctness. There are some racial jokes that manage some slight laughs (I’m being generous) and that identify their speakers as fodder for the blade, but then there’s a rape/attempted rape that is treated rather shoddily and doesn’t get much in the way of closure. If the movie wasn’t a homegrown production I’d expect the Icelandic tourism council to start complaining the way the Brazilians did over Turistas… because these locals are not nice people. Again, these tonal missteps don’t kill the movie but they don’t fit the overall mood of snarky humor and bloody fisticuffs. They’re also fairly ignorable as the rest of the movie gets things right. Some good laughs, some great kills and fights, and a solid ending make this a slasher worth watching.

Check out the complete festival schedule here.

And check out the rest of our festival coverage here.

Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.