Jackpot (Arme Riddere)

Norway (2011) Dir. Magnus Martens

In a strip club named Pink heaven, police are investigating a violent shootout where they find a dazed and confused Oscar Svendson (Kyrre Hellum) underneath large dead stripper, with a rifle in his hand. Oscar is taken in for questioning but the detective Solør (Henrik Mestad) doesn’t quite believe the extravagant story that he is told.

Based on a short story from Headhunters author Jo Nesbø this dark comedy compacts quite a lot in its brisk 82 minute run time, offering plenty of entertainment along the way. It might tread some familiar ground in taking the flashback route to fill in the blanks but the twists and jet black silliness of the situation makes for a decent little romp.

As we learn the centrifugal force driving the plot is the 1.7 million krone winnings from the football pools which was to be shared between four people: Christmas tree manufacturer Oscar and his three employees Thor Eggen (Mads Ousdal), Dan Treschow (Andreas Cappelen) and Billy Utomjordet (Arthur Berning). As is the danger with syndicates, some may want a larger slice of – if not all – the money which Oscar soon learns is the shocking and blood splattered reality of the situation.

We’ll leave the plot summary there for now so nothing is spoiled bit suffice to say nothing runs smooth for anyone in the group, especially poor Oscar. The body count begins to mount in a slow but extremely gory fashion as the story progresses while the script leaves little clues here and there as to how the end with play out. In case you were wondering how the strip club plays into things, Thor sends Oscar there to get some cheap booze but the club owner Lasse (Peter Andersson) refuses the sale as Thor owes him a large sum of money. As it transpires, Thor is the only one of the quartet who has a motive for wanting the money to himself which makes him an immediate suspect for the ensuing carnage, but the track record of psychotic Billy makes for a convenient and effective distraction from this.

Setting this around Christmas time is a bit of cheeky move especially when Oscar’s company makes small Christmas trees from recycled goods which go through a chipper machine, but this is a black comedy demonstrated by the sight of the little white trees coming off the conveyor belt, each successive one sporting an increasing shade of red as the bodies are discreetly disposed of. Severed limbs, geysers of blood and an unusual but effective use for a blow–up doll are just some of the extreme sights that away the viewer as this far fetched but eventful story unfolds.

Everything is well shot and the cast throw themselves into their roles, attacking them in the tongue-in-cheek spirit of the film. Yes it is silly, yes it is violent and often crude, but everyone involved is clearly aware that they are not remaking Citizen Kane and are just having fun and that comes across in the mood and atmosphere, similar to say Shaun of the Dead (but don’t compare the two films, just the sardonic approach to the horror genre). Given it is Norwegian it shows another side of Nordic cinema other than the bleak crime dramas that have seemingly defined the film and TV output of Scandinavia over the past few years.

Jackpot is a short sharp shock of a film but a lot of fun – depending on one’s tolerance for blood and gore of course. Whether you’ll want to enter into a pools syndicate after this however…