The Northman

The Northman ★★★★½

Visceral blood-soaked intensity, with a heady mythological sense of the inevitable. The Northman is thrilling because it is 100% committed to its worldview. This isn't just boiled-in-mud-and-shit grimness, it's a setting where every action is charged with a desperate vitality because slavery and destruction is only ever a knife's edge away. And it crackles with supernatural fervor. There is a thin dross of "plausible" explanations for the more overtly magical goings-on, for those watching the picture who are too quipped up and disdainful to just Believe In Movies, but fuck all that; The Northman is simply a world where witches and cave shamans have wise words to share from the dead, your magic revenge sword refuses to be drawn except at night, and Odin himself may free you from your bonds if you are fated to die elsewhere.

Every actor in the cast rises to meet the maniacal intensity that the movie demands. It's exhausting by the end - Alexander Skarsgård in particular is so bestial and wild-eyed in his emotions that he does not permit the audience a single fragment of chill - but grand and gripping and gnarly all at once. I suspect Robert Eggers will be forced to retreat to lower-budgeted film projects after this, but I am glad we got to see the Eggers version of an action blockbuster.

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