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Review: Terribly Happy

Exudes an evil all its own
By PETER KEOUGH  |  March 2, 2010
3.0 3.0 Stars

In Henrik Ruben Genz's thriller, Copenhagen cop Robert Hansen (Jakob Cedergren), who's been reassigned for disciplinary reasons, pulls into a squalid hamlet in Denmark's South Jutland region. If the Bates Motel were an entire community, it would resemble this town.

The local bully (Kim Bodnia) wears a cowboy hat and bolo tie and gets drunk and breaks people's arms. His wife (Lene Maria Christensen) is a schizo slut who tries to seduce the new cop — perhaps so her husband can break his arm. The feral daughter pushes a baby carriage with a squeaky wheel late at night whenever her father is beating her mother up. Then there's the Bog, where people — outsiders especially — disappear.

Nonetheless, Robert soon feels at home. Genz's amoral, sadistic black comedy recalls the Coen Brothers in Blood Simple mode; it's fascinating to watch as the hapless characters are sucked into a morass of diabolical fate and their own vice and folly. Although derivative, Terribly Happy exudes an evil all its own, like the peaty tang of its setting.

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