Ambiguous and beautifully insidious as result, Rift is an impressive sophomore effort from Icelandic filmmaker Erlingur Thoroddsen. While its slow pace and questions seemingly unanswered will not be for everyone, the patient viewer is rewarded with an immersive exercise in mood that is both moving and ultimately shocking.
Effectively a chamber piece, Rift is based around the relationship between two ex-lovers. Gunnar receives a late-night phone call from Einar, who is distressed, and thinks that he is not alone. As the two awkwardly reunite, the tension is immediate. This is important for Rift; at first glance, the film appears to be a drama solely concerned with the pair’s relationship, but setting up this real-world discomfort provides a solid foundation for when the mysterious knocking at their isolated cabin begins. Gunnar, already uncomfortable in an unfamiliar, remote part of the country, feels his paranoia mount as locals warn him not to pick up hitchhikers, and Einar’s erratic behaviour seems to further draw something malevolent in.
The answers dance from our fingertips but the intrigue — bolstered by two excellent central performances — is delicious, as the tension winds up, and up, coming to a shocking final act that feels all the more brutal in its violence for having taken its time so. The final note is truly chilling as Gunnar comes to meet his fate. Rift is highly recommended.
Sigurður Þór Óskarsson
London Film Festival