Cadaver a Norwegian Netflix horror film set in a (sigh) post-apocalyptic hellscape where survival isn’t just a thing, it’s the only thing — and then that thing gets more difficult because the principal characters are imbeciles who don’t know a TGTBT (Too Good To Be True) situation when they see it. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad movie, right?
CADAVER: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
The Gist: Slow zoom out on an eyeball, in a painting, of a goat head, not attached to the rest of the goat, and resting on a plate. Cut to the outside world: It’s effed. Leonora (Gitte Witt), Jacob (Thomas Gullestad) and their daughter Alice (Tuva Olivia Remman) make their way through the ruins of wherever they are, scrounging for food. Newspapers (remember those?) bellow headlines about nuclear war disaster, because the last thing many people did before they died was write and print articles about how they were probably going to die. The family barricades itself in a home where they’ll probably starve to death, but at least they’re safe from whoever pounds menacingly at the door, probably with Jehovah’s Witness literature.
The next day, as they eat some dust in a delectable ash sauce, a voice from outside shouts to gather people: Come see a show and get some food. Sounds like dinner theater of the damned to me, but hey, I have a fridge heavy with Lunchables. The scenario seems fishy, but hey, this is a movie from Norway, where herring is a major export rimshot exclamation point! Leo, Jacob and Alice trek to a nearby majestic hotel where fancy waitstaff serves them and many other attendees a sumptuous meal that might as well be one shoe on a platter, since we’re waiting for the other one to drop.
Mathias (Thorbjorn Harr), the organizer of this gathering that SURELY isn’t taking advantage of desperate people, then takes the stage, says it’s time for everyone to forget about the outside world for a while and introduces the play the audience is about to experience. Attendees will wear creepy-ass gold masks to differentiate them from the actors, who wander throughout the hotel acting out scenes. Our protag family follows a woman through halls with plush carpeting and up and down stairs that seem to spiral down to Heck, and the whole thing has a creepy vibe, but Leo is maybe enthralled, because she used to be a stage actress herself, most notably in Macbeth. Some of the “dramatic scenes” they watch are kinda violent, another is of people doin’ it. Then there’s a moment where Leo and Jacob just let Alice wander off because they’re dolts and they run up and down a red hall and then up and down a blue hall trying to find her and they start to panic because maybe this wasn’t such a great idea after all and what was with that goat head painting anyway?
What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: Cadaver starts off like The Road and then is kind of A Quiet Place and then resembles Eyes Wide Shut and eventually brings to mind a movie I shouldn’t mention because it’ll ruin the twist even though you’ll probably see it coming from a mile away.
Performance Worth Watching: (Checks notes) (furrows brow) (coughs) (hides in bathroom for five hours)
Memorable Dialogue: “Tonight, you will tap into the human within yourselves.” — Mathias spews nonsense
Sex and Skin: Like I said, two people was doin’ it. It’s not very sexy though.
Our Take: As that one guy said, all the world’s a stage, and the men and women merely pawns in an undercooked movie with a predictable plot, a few flashes of visual flair and nothing to say. It’s limp like a dead herring before it’s put on ice. Concept? Blah. Scares? Nah. Characters? Cardboard. Story? Flimsy. Atmosphere? A smidgen. Suspense? Slightly less than a smidgen. Climactic slo-mo sequence that barely earns the right to be presented in climactic slo-mo? Of course!
In the 1980s, Cadaver would have been packaged in a black-and-white container with the label Generic Horror Movie and beneath that it would read “86 minutes.” Because that’s what it does — it fills 86 minutes. There’s very little about this film to set it apart from many, many others of its ilk, and it’s destined to be seen only by lunatics who watch every horror movie that exists, like it’s a life quest or something. I also don’t know why it’s called Cadaver. I guess every horror movie eventually has a cadaver in it, so they should all be titled Cadaver!
Our Call: SKIP IT. My hopes that the goat head painting would mean this was a cool Satanic movie were unfounded.
Watch Cadaver on Netflix