NFF Masquerade Review: ‘Victim of Love’

Unreliable narrators are incredibly ripe territory for the horror genre to mine. Usually a protagonist is of sound mind, so you can trust whatever they are seeing, saying, and experiencing throughout the story at hand. Not so with an unreliable narrator! Be they insane, traumatized, hallucinating, and/or suffering from amnesia, you are forced to suss out for yourself what is going on within the narrative.

This can be frustrating for audiences and can often lead to angered viewers. After all, many people don’t care for such tropes and if what they guess as it unfolds turns out to be wrong, they are apt to be even angrier. I am not one of these people. Hell, the crazier the protagonist, the better!

Victim of Love very much has an untrustworthy protagonist. We are presented with a man who is supposed to be in search of his missing lover. He says the police are of little help, but we never even see or hear him contact them. He says that he is working hard to find her, but outside of him lurking around in bars and nightclubs and occasionally whipping out her picture for people, he doesn’t seem to be trying very much. He mostly just wanders around drunk and coked out of his mind.

What happened to his beloved? For the longest time we don’t know, but this is the kind of story where the journey matters more than the destination. We are watching our “hero” unravel more and more as the story progresses, both mentally and physically as well. After all, due to all of that booze and coke, he’s pretty grimy and probably doesn’t smell too good.

There’s a lot of DNA from William Lustig’s Maniac present here. Not in terms of killings, mind you. There’s not a lot of traditional horror carnage on display here. The filmmakers do not skimp on the violence and gore, but the majority of it comes via nightmares and visions. Or are they memories? That’s the real question! The hallucinatory imagery is what reminds me of Maniac the most.

I am also reminded of a previous Nightmares Film Festival alumni, Scars of Xavier. They would make a great double-feature in terms of style and theme, even though they differ narratively. Style being the keyword, as Danish writer/director Jesper Isaksen is a gifted visualist. I’m not surprised to learn that he is a veteran music video director.

Wild visuals are not in short supply here, but the film does drag a bit in the midsection as our lead, Charly (Rudi Kohnke, who is excellent here), drifts from seedy den to seedy den as he attempts to drown his sorrows in drugs, sex, and alcohol. Still, pacing issues are not enough to sink this effort and I am eager to see what Isaksen conjures up in his (hopefully inevitable) next feature.

Victim of Love is an original horror film. It was directed by Jesper Isaksen, from a screenplay by Jesper Isaksen and Sonny Lahey. The film was produced by Timothy Skyer Dunigan, Jesper Isaksen, Rudi Kohnke, Julie Elisabeth Oest-jacobsen, Mathias Tegtmeier, and Thomas Yong. It stars Rudi Kohnke, Siff Andersson, Louise Cho, Paw Terndrup, Jens Blegaa, and Sabrina Ferguen.

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