The Ringmaster (Movie Review)

The Ringmaster, originally titled Finale, is a one hour and forty minute dark chocolate filmic treat superbly directed by Danish Film Producer Søren Juul Petersen (Webmaster 1988, We Are the Champions 2005). Available in the UK on digital platforms since November 30, 2020, it made its debut in cinemas on December 2nd thanks to Danse Macabre.

Before you start daydreaming about circus acts with elephants or clowns let us assure you that this movie is as far removed from those images as can be. So let us ask you a favor: grip the sides of your chair and steel your nerves! The Ringmaster is a showstopper for all those movie fanatics who enjoy a Gladiator (2000) esque form of entertainment, complete with visually graphic portrayals of brutality and cruelty.

The Ringmaster still

As we already know, the quintessential role of a ringmaster is to introduce the lineup of circus acts. In this Danish Psychological Thriller, Damon Younger (Black’s Game 2012, The Valhalla 2020) masterfully portrays a master of ceremonies who flaunts his creepy and diabolical nature. Case in point, he abducts his star attractions from a seemingly deserted gas station on a night when the entire population of Denmark is destined to be glued to their televisions watching a  popular sports final.

The drama continues to unfold as the sinister character forces his captives to participate in his nefarious show in front of a live audience. Cameras strategically placed stream the atrocities to a live feed that speeds down the digital highway. In this, the macabre “circus acts” are served up as entrees on a silver platter, and will most assuredly raise a few eyebrows here and there, as well as hair on the nape of the neck, due to the extremely cruel acts orchestrated by the depraved villain.

As the opening scenes flit across the screen, moviegoers’ eyeballs are bombarded with intense visual images that captivate even those who have the attention span of a gnat; the eyes are entranced while viewers’ ears hang on every word spoken by the narrator. Dramatically dropping hints of the darkness to come, he ends his spiel with a somber warning.

The Ringmaster still

The plot of The Ringmaster centers on two women—Belinda (Karin Michelsen: Gennembrud 2015, Jeg or David 2016) and Agnes Berger (Anne Bergfield: The Last Warrior 2010, Badehotellet 2013)—who are working the nightshift side by side, and one can sense a strong undercurrent of friction between them. And it doesn’t help that these two are as different as night and day!

Michelsen does a magnificent job portraying a woman whose life is in complete shambles, with the additional baggage of a dirtbag boyfriend. Bergfield, on the other hand, offers an exemplary portrayal of a snobbish woman who seemingly has it all, including a doctor boyfriend. Of course, neither woman has a single clue that within the next few hours their lives will undergo a drastic transformation.

As they go about their activities, zoomed images of the gas station and surveillance cameras are toggled onscreen with the accompaniment of eerie music, creating a sense of isolation and foreboding. Similarly, the sequence of events throughout the film is cut into fragments and then spliced together to heighten the psychological suspense of the movie. The sheer madness that follows is unfathomable as these two women are forced to commit barbaric acts against each other, delivering scenes that are likely to cause one’s bile to rise. And throughout all of these events both women experience a dissolving sense of reality.

The Ringmaster still

Amazingly these two female forces join together to foil their attacker, each one hellbent on survival—and the outcome is totally unexpected! The takeaway? We never know just what we are capable of until we are put into that situation. So if you are a fan of the darkest side of humanity and have a sweet tooth for macabre entertainment, The Ringmaster is definitely for you. For this reason, Cryptic Rock gives the film 5 out of 5 stars.

Danse Macabre


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