Substitute" DVD cover
It sounds like the
start of a bad children's book, I know--"My teacher is an
alien!" Yeah, we all grew up with something like that around
somewhere, didn't we? And it was great back when we were in the
fourth grade, but can this concept apply further?
That's the question
The Substitute will pose, as an alien comes down to earth from
a planet that knows only war in search of something mankind has--love.
Weird, I know, and she's going to try and get it from the children
as she poses as a teacher about to take her class to an international
competition in Paris. And although she's not exactly the nicest
of educators, she's got the parents eating out of her hand. So
can the kids keep themselves from falling prey to an alien plot?
Or will they be just one small cog in a much greater disaster
I have to hand it to
The Substitute for being able to really milk a joke--there's this
excellent stretch where one of the students is describing this
really outlandish dream before revealing that it's all just a
a pretty big problem with the sound track not synching up with
character movements, and I think that may well have something
to do with the fact that this is likely Danish in origin. Danish
horror? I'm downright intrigued!
It is all somewhat
predictable--even the kids see it coming when the opportunity
to catch the alien in the act of being a lunatic live-chicken-eater
comes and goes in a haze of normalcy. I love watching the kids
board the bus as the teacher / alien gets to take the kids off
There are so many moments
I love about The Substitute that it's hard to understand why I
didn't love the whole so much more. I suppose it's true what they
say about the whole being more than the sum of its parts, and
in this case, the whole is not so much.
The ending may well
be the best part of The Substitute for a change, as it removes
all the subterfuge and excuses and such and instead leaves us
with a nice unalloyed final boss fight sort of ending that does
a solid and satisfying job.
The special features
include audio options, English and Spanish subtitles, director's
commentary, audio in the original Danish (I THOUGHT it was Danish!)
and trailers for Brotherhood of Blood, Room 205, No Man's Land:
Rise of the Reeker, Trackman, Dark Floors, Last House in the Woods
and Dance of the Dead.
All in all, The Substitute,
despite extensive problems with predictability, manages to satisfy
and satisfy fairly solidly. Let me be clear on one point--this
will NOT scare you. Seriously, no scares here. I don't know why
Ghost House brought this on. But it IS a solid and entertaining
little title with a great ending, and it's definitely worth a
Directed by Ole Bornedal
Written by Henrik Prip, Ole Bornedal
Starring Paprika Steen, Ulrich Thomsen, Jonas Wandschneider, Nikolaj
Produced by Michael Obel
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