It’s easy to throw the semi-word “Hitchcockian” around when discussing a great little import thriller like Corridor; the film features only three central characters and two locations, but what it lacks in plot and ensemble it more than makes up for in simple suspense and a very stylish presentation. The film is further proof that you don’t need a stunningly unique idea (or tons of cash) to make a rock-solid and very confident 80-minute thriller that can please any film freak who is unafraid of (gasp!) subtitles.
Yes, horror watchers, Corridor is one of those foreign-language thriller flicks; it hails from Sweden, specifically. But since I know you all saw (and adored) Let the Right One In, I’m hoping that the culture shock won’t be too jarring. Written and directed by Johan Lundborg and Johan Stern, Corridor is a consistently (even deliciously) engrossing thriller / mystery that earns bonus points for very strong acting, a wonderfully moody visual presentation, and a remarkably fast pace that culminates in a weirdly satisfying climax.
The film is about a rather brusque and dismissive medical student named Frank (Emil Johnson) who (reluctantly) befriends a new neighbor called Lotte (Ylva Gallon) -- and quickly grows to regret it. Lotte, you see, has a supremely unpleasant boyfriend, the kind that slaps her around, and despite his best efforts, Frank cannot help but become embroiled in their abusive affair. (And boy, does it get abusive.) Throw in a few supplementary distractions (Lotte’s mysterious pal Lenny, Frank’s high-pressure med school studies, and a consistently nosy landlady) and Corridor has more than enough tension to keep Frank’s plight slyly exciting.
Best of all, the co-directors pay obvious and frequent homage to suspense masters like Hitchcock, Polanski and De Palma .... without being showy, florid, or slavish to their obvious inspirations. The way the titular corridor becomes almost its own character, for example, with spiral staircase, flickering lights, and fluid shadows, is an example of two young filmmakers who know what they’re doing.
Mr. Johnson delivers a fascinating performance; in Act I he’s almost insufferably rude -- but as the film plays out, his high-stress plight allows for a much more symapthetic character to break through. Ms. Gallon is certainly his equal, portraying Lotte as a cross between wide-eyed innocent and deeply wounded soul. And while you rarely see the man well enough to recognize him, character actor Peter Stormare (as the ever-infuriated Micke) delivers a palpable sense of malevolence whenever his character is around. (Or even mentioned.)
Special mention to a fine musical score, a vital and very clever sound design, and an expeditious pace that really keeps the tension percolating.