Review: Cadaver

How should one survive post doomsday?

Netflix' first Norwegian feature film has great ambitions and a fascinating plot - but unfortunately fails at key points.

Published 20 October 2020 - 7:45 am
Tor Aavatsmark

With Cadaver, Netflix presents us with its first Norwegian film. Here we sense great ambitions and the plot and first scenes are quite promising – unfortunately it does not quite hold up.


Norway is in ruins after a nuclear holocaust, the cities are destroyed and polluted; those who have survived the disaster are fighting for the scarce resources, of which food is the most precarious.

When a traveling “circus host” invites to a party and show, accompanied by a gourmet meal, the small family Leonora (Gitte Witt), Jacob (Thomas Gullestad) and Alice (Tuva O. Remman) are not difficult to persuade.

A bell should probably have rang ine the heads of Leonora and Jacob, when something is too good to be true, it usually is – this is also the core problem with Herdal’s (director) second feature film: We really struggle to believe in the constructed story.

Of course, not everything is as it seems, something we also expect from a real horror, but in the extravagant, historic hotel, run by the charismatic Mathias (Thorbjørn Harr), there is too much that does not makes sense.

Herdal has initially added a sense of the mysterious and a gorgeous visual style to the film, it is the plots credibility and lack of suspense that’s missing. We walk through red-clad hallways with heavy wall-to-wall carpets, macabre paintings and dim lighting, where the “guests” are dressed in creepy gold masks, while the “actors” stage a live-action theater. Clever and fascinating, with several good single scenes and visually a real treat.

Unfortunately, too many hopelessly stupid choices are made by the main characters, the background story is served drop by drop in a unsubtle way and the big finale becomes one huge anticlimax.

Cadaver’s forte is the inherently eerie atmosphere, great photo and good acting performances from Harr and Helge Jordal. Especially Witt (who does not have the horror register of Shelley Duvall) and Gullestad underperforms, which is mainly due to the unfinished script, where most of the dialogue feels strained.

Unfortunately Cadaver does not live up to its potential, we’re quite sure a few more weeks spent on tweking/improving the script would have solved many of the films shortcomings. 3 mediocre stars.

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Cadaver (Photo: Netflix)


  • Netflix
  • Release: October 22, 2020
  • Directed by Jarand Herdal
  • With: Gitte Witt, Thomas Gullestad, Thorbjørn Harr, Tuva O. Remman, Kingsford Siayor, Helge Jordal
  • Genre: Horror
  • Country: Norway
  • Year: 2020
  • Time: 1:26 p.m.
  • Score: 3
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