Movies are often a metaphor for a major moment in life. Horror movies, in particular, prey on the tension inherent in life’s biggest moments — puberty, marriage, childbirth, and death — and use them to tell any number of different stories.
Sometimes, though, it’s impossible to wish that a horror movie was less of a metaphor and more of an entertaining piece of art. When Animals Dream is one of these movies. Well made and well acted, When Animals Dream tells the story of a girl who comes of age — and also something more. It’s a slow burn, a quiet movie, and introspective piece of art. I just wish it gave us a little more.
The film sets itself up to be the ultimate revenge flick. Marie (played remarkably by first-time actress Sonia Suhl) is beaten down by just about everyone outside of her family. Knowing the kind of movie this is, you know she’ll have an opportunity to get her revenge. But the payoff doesn’t quite live up to the build-up, and it left me wanting more.
When Animals Dream is a pretty great feature debut for director Jonas Alexander Arnby, and Suhl is great in the lead role. I enjoyed the movie, but was left wanting more. Sometimes, that’s a great feeling to have; here, it left me unsatisfied. It’s not a long movie (it’s only about 80 minutes without the credits), so check it out if you’re a big-time horror fan (like me!). But for everyone else, it’s not worth your time — especially not in a year with other great coming-of-age horror stories.