If you’ve never seen a Lithuanian horror movie before, there’s a very good reason for that–they aren’t really a thing. Unlike many other places, Lithuania doesn’t have a history of horror in movies. There isn’t even much in terms of written fiction. Director/co-writer Jonas Trukanas hopes to be part of the turning tide on that with his first feature We Might Hurt Each Other (a.k.a. Pensive, a.k.a. Rupintojelis). We Might Hurt Each Other is Lithuania’s first slasher movie, and it largely sticks to the formula we know–with some welcome twists.
The film follows teenage wallflower Marius as he and his classmates hope to find a place to celebrate their high school graduation. Although most of the kids in this tight knit group have already begun to plan their futures, including Rimas who will likely be drafted by the NBA, Marius doesn’t really know what he will do next. While Rimas does appear to be one of his close friends, we quickly see that Marius is jealous not only the attention Rimas gets at school, but also the attention Rimas gets from Marius’ own parents. Oh, also, Rimas has a hot girlfriend that Marius would like to get close to. When the original party location falls through, Marius comes to the rescue with a property he overhears his realtor mother talking about–a secluded cabin in the woods that no one is interested in buying as it is the site of a tragic fire that killed an entire family save for one survivor. You see where this is going..that one remaining family member can’t be in a mentally healthy place.
Algis Motiejūnas helplessly watched his wife and children die in that house fire and was reluctantly thrust into the media spotlight. He then retreated as a hermit creating creepy folk art sculptures of his family. These sculptures are in the style of the “Pensive Christ” where Jesus is depicted, shortly before crucifixion, contemplating his future with one or both hands at his face. While the film does not have overt religious themes, the inclusion of this detail not only alludes to the teens on the precipice of their own futures, but also embraces a Lithuanian tradition where it is not uncommon to find statues of this sort throughout the countryside. Naturally, the teenagers can’t keep themselves from fucking up these statues in a myriad of ways and end up on a kill-list with their manner of death reflects the manner in which they defaced the art. Unknowingly creating their own life size wooden voodoo dolls, the teens behead, burn, chop and skewer the icons.
As far as slashers go, much of what is here is pretty standard. Even the killer himself is very Jason-like and resides in a very Friday the 13th setting. None of the kills are particularly creative, and many are off screen. But the ones we do get to see are effective. Where the film really strays from the formula is in the character arc. Instead of a pure and heroic “final girl”, we are given Marius. A teen boy who is, frankly, difficult to like. His motivations are almost entirely in his own self interest throughout the film culminating in the ultimate teenage behavior of being pretty much fine with other people dying as long as he might get a chance to impress the girl. It’s a bold move to put an unlikable character at the helm of your film, but it works here not only because it breaks the mold we’re used to, but also because it is, unfortunately, fairly believable. By the end I began to think that the Fragile Male Ego was the real killer all along.
While I wish we could have wallowed more in the blood and guts of a fairly high kill count, the end result is perfectly enjoyable. A teenage rave in the wilderness surrounded by creepy folk art is a great set up and the cast turns in great work. The narrative does just enough to subvert stereotypes and stand out from the pack as far as slashers are concerned–even if the killer himself leaves a bit to be desired. This is a solid start for Lithuanian slashers (and for Trukanas as a director), and I am excited to see more of both!
We Might Hurt Each Other screened at Chattanooga Film Festival and has been acquired by Screambox