Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans



Directed by Jonas Trukanas.
Starring Sarunas Rapolas Meliesius, Gabija Bargailaite, Kipras Masidlauskas.
Horror, 97 minutes, Lithuania.

Reviewed as part of FrightFest Glasgow 2023


Slasher afficionados would do well to seek out PENSIVE. Aside from being billed as Lithuania’s very first film in the genre it also makes a number of interesting tweaks to the teenagers stalked by a backwoods madman formula for it to be checked out on its own merits other than its geographical origins.


Kicking off with a high school graduation we are introduced to a sizable cast of characters/victims, chief amongst them being Marius. An unremarkable young man, he often fades into the background, particularly in the presence of Rimas, a strapping basketball star who has already been signed up by the NBA and his girlfriend Brigita, who Marius has feelings for. Overlooked even by his parents, Marius seizes the opportunity to find a location for his class’s graduation party after the original plans fall through. When driving to the remote cabin they encounter a group of wooden statues that have been carved by a local artist with a tragic past. When the statues are defaced by the teenagers at the height of their drink and drugs fuelled shenanigans the local artist takes offence and gains bloody revenge on the teenagers.


After a measured beginning which plays out like a character study of a man struggling for recognition and belonging, PENSIVE fully delves into its slasher fundamentals (sex equals death, booze and drugs equals death and in this case destruction of public property especially equals death.) For those not enamoured with the genre these staples may come across as cliched. Die hard fans should recognise that they are being celebrated as well as sent up in a sly way, particularly when the shortcomings of its “hero” and his personality come into play. While the character of the masked killer is given a backstory to explain his actions and therefore a certain sympathetic edge, Marius is given no such concessions, subverting the expectations of the film and sub-genre.


The character study of the earlier section of the film comes back into play slotting in neatly with its stalk and slash setpieces. Without giving too much away this is a film very much of its time, particularly with the likes of the incel movement making recent headlines leading the film onto becoming a satire of sorts in its own stealthy way. While it may feel rushed at times, particularly with the full-on slasher aspect, PENSIVE is a welcome examination of the genre from a corner of the globe that has been unheard of in this regard until now.


Iain MacLeod.


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Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans