Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"Whilst there is an element of science fiction here, co-writer/director Karoline Lyngbye focuses on the psychological possibilities that it opens up." | Photo: courtesy of Frightfest

Is there any job as exhausting as being a parent? Mothers especially are expected to watch their children 100% of the time, and castigated if they don’t, but it’s an impossible thing to do in practice, especially if one is also expected to do one’s share of housework and earn a living. In the absence of a partner who is equally committed, one really needs to be two people.

Five-year-old Nemo (Mihlo Olsen) is a very full-on child, old enough to have developed an independent streak but not yet mature enough to recognise that listening to adults can still be important. When Stine (Marie Bach Hansen) and her husband Teit (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard) decide to move out into the middle of nowhere, his needs don’t seem to have been fully taken into account. It’s not a problem for Teit, who casually assumes that Stine will provide most of the care he needs, but she’s trying to write at the same time, and although we see the love between them, we also see those little flashes which most parents experience but few admit to, when all she really wants is to be rid of him.

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It’s those moments which bloom into a poisonous sense of guilt in a pivotal scene during which she loses sight of Nemo in the woods. It’s a scene which sets the tone for the rest of the film, and will leave anyone who has ever been in that position – a substantial portion of the population – on edge throughout. Teit’s angry response when he learns what happened pushes Stine deeper into herself, as does Nemo’s odd behaviour. This sets the stage for a strange encounter in which the couple’s stated plan to head out into the wilderness to find themselves takes on an unsettling new dimension.

Changelings, doppelgängers and other figures out of myth haunt the borders of a story which constantly shifts in unexpected directions. Stine and Teit, recording conversations about their new life for a radio programme, promise to be honest but seem unable to let go of the lies they tell to themselves, never mind one another. As the title suggests, it’s built up in layers: layers of genre, layers of deception, layers of personality submerging what went before. An apparently happy marriage turns out to be built over serious fissures. Stine will ask herself why she stays, but both she and Teit would do anything for their boy.

Little cut-away images, almost subliminal, add to the sense that something still more disconcerting than what we see directly is at work. Whilst there is an element of science fiction here, co-writer/director Karoline Lyngbye focuses on the psychological possibilities that it opens up, and the excellent performances (with young Olsen a remarkable discovery) allow her to get the full benefit of that. Though it screened as part of Halloween Frightfest 2023, and does contain some of the elements which you might expect to find there, the all too believable, real world horror which it ultimately addresses is what will stay with you.

Reviewed on: 29 Oct 2023
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Superposition packshot
A couple and their young son choose to move to a remote cabin in the Danish Forest for an experiment in off-grid living, with no human contact for a year. When they encounter another family in the forest, identical to themselves in almost every way, the fabric of their identities faces a test.

Director: Karoline Lyngbye

Writer: Karoline Lyngbye

Year: 2023

Runtime: 105 minutes

Country: Denmark

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