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Substitute [Import]

Paprika Steen , Ulrich Thomsen , Ole Bornedal    R (Restricted)   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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By Daniel Jolley TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
I couldn't help but worry when what I thought was a pure horror film (it certainly looked like one, and it is one of the Ghost House Underground films, after all) opened with the words "once upon a time." A somewhat confusing opening and lots of obviously bad dubbing (this is a Danish film) did little to reassure me. Once the "substitute" showed up, though, I quickly found myself being drawn into this quite unusual film. Let me assure you that this is a really weird movie - surreal, actually - and some people will undoubtedly hate it. As for me, I loved it. They should have stuck with the original Danish title, though - Vikaren - because that sounds so much cooler than The Substitute - and this is one seriously cool movie.

I think most of us loved substitute teachers when we were kids because it meant a free period of quiet reading or anything that didn't involve actual learning for that day. Of course, it's a different story when a regular teacher is going to be out for an extended period of time - but it's not like some strange woman is going to come in and terrorize the kids with extra-sensory powers and prepare them for a mass alien abduction. Unless you're a Danish kid going to the school portrayed in The Substitute, that is. Here, the new substitute reads the minds of the kids and uses that to begin terrorizing them from the moment she walks in (well, she makes a pencil stand up balanced on its tip first). It's especially hard for young Carl, who is already dealing with the recent horrific loss of his mother. Despite his outcast status among his classmates, he manages convince the others that something is seriously wrong with their new teacher. A suddenly clique-free class then comes together and discovers that Ms.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Lawrance M. Bernabo HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
"The Substitute" is not quite in the "so bad it is good" category, but I think it is definitely worth some laughs. The description of the film is fairly straightforward: this sixth grade class is getting a substitute teacher and they suspect that she is an alien. Sounds familiar, right? Well, this 2007 film is definitely another fun example of a movie that strikes you as being cobbled together from more familiar films. You have another teacher as alien like in "The Faculty," but they are teaching sixth graders (which makes them about the age of the kids in "The Goonies"), the flying sphere from "Phantasm," the idea of being taken to another planet like in "Cocoon", and several other cinematic points of reference that you can discover for yourselves. But that is not the main thing that makes this film fun.

THIS FILM IS DUBBED. That is because this is a Danish film and its original title is "Vikaren." Directed by Ole Bornedal ("Nightwatch") with a screenplay by Bornedal and Henrik Prip. When you pop in any of these Ghost House Underground DVDS you get the trailer for "Saw V" (or as we like to call it "Emily's Revenge," because it stars Scott Patterson from "Gilmore Girls"), and the trailers for the other seven GHU movies.
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Amazon.com: 3.4 out of 5 stars  21 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting little movie... Jan. 13 2009
By Brett Heitkam - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
The Substitute (original Danish title "Vikaren") is not a HORROR movie, it's a sci-fi movie with small elements of horror mixed in. This is more of a "family" type of sci-fi/horror movie like Lady in White or Stepmonster. The only reason this movie is rated R is because of a few (maybe 2 or 3) instances of the F-word. Otherwise this movie would be totally appropriate for kids probably 10 years old and up. The special effects are pretty cool for what must have been a very small budget, but they did leave me wanting more. We never get a full-on look at what the teacher would look like in her true alien form, (if you have seen the trailer, you've seen the best money shot in the movie) which is disappointing.

As far as the acting goes, the cast really outdoes themselves. The kids are great (think Goonies or Stand By Me) and the woman who plays the teacher does a wonderful job of tackling a difficult role. If you do buy this DVD, however, ONLY watch the subtitled version with the original Danish language. The dubbed English actors do their best, but it sounds like a Japanese Anime English dub the entire way through, i.e. the kids are all dubbed by 30-40 year old women and sound nothing like kids. 2 or 3 of the boys sound like they were dubbed by actual teenage boys but 90% of the kids just sound ridiculous, especially the main character boy's young sister and the token know-it-all girl in the classroom.

So anyway, if you like your "horror" light and breezy with hints of dark comedy and a whole lot of sci-fi thrown in, check this one out. Just remember to stay far, far away from the English dubbed version!!!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Entertaining Suspenseful Comedy--3 1/2 Stars Jan. 20 2009
By tvtv3 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Part of the Ghost House Underground series of horror movies, THE SUBSTITUTE isn't a horror movie at all. Instead it's a suspense-filled comedy filmed in Denmark. The movie revolves around a 6th grade boy named Carl (Jonas Wandschneider). Carl was recently involved in a car accident in which he was injured and his mother was killed. Carl and his father, Jesper (Ulrich Thomsen) seem to be getting by, but inside each struggles with the death of their matriarch. At school, Carl's teacher takes a suspended leave of absence and the class is presented with their substitute teacher for the rest of the term, Ms. Ulla (Paprika Steen). Ms. Ulla is a strict disciplinarian who knows which buttons to push to keep students quite and get them upset. She seems capable of reading the students' minds and after a series of bizarre events, Carl and his classmates suspect Ulla isn't who she claims to be and soon discover that she's really an alien bent on world domination. Ulla wants to take the students on a field trip to Paris for what she claims is an opportunity to compete in a prestigious academic competition. The students know otherwise and attempt to convince the adults of what they already know before they leave for the trip and Ulla's plan is set in motion.

THE SUBSTITUTE was directed and co-written by the Ole Bornedal. Bornedal has a unique talent of making surreal films that aren't just entertaining, but are based in reality, have a moral foundation, and deliver social commentary. THE SUBSTITUE captivated my attention from the opening scene when a vortex through space opens and a silver sphere crashes to Earth, smashing into a chicken. That scene is hilarious and that dark humor is used throughout the movie. There isn't anything really horrific about the film and the overall mood of the film feels like a teenage mystery story.

My only complaint about the DVD is that the copy I had the film was only available in dubbed English. About 3/4th of the movie the dubbing was okay, not great, but good enough to get by. However, there are moments in the film where the dubbing is atrocious. For instance, I think Carl's sister and the smart girl in his class were dubbed by the same annoying female voice. If you can find a copy of the movie with the original Danish being spoken with subtitles in English, that's the way to watch it.

Overall, THE SUBSTITUE is an enjoyable suspense-comedy with some great visuals (especially considering the low budget of the movie).

The special features on the DVD include a commentary with Ole Bornedal and a trailer gallery of all 8 of the Ghost House Underground movies.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ah, the joys of a badly dubbed Danish science fiction-horror flick Oct. 25 2008
By Lawrance M. Bernabo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
"The Substitute" is not quite in the "so bad it is good" category, but I think it is definitely worth some laughs. The description of the film is fairly straightforward: this sixth grade class is getting a substitute teacher and they suspect that she is an alien. Sounds familiar, right? Well, this 2007 film is definitely another fun example of a movie that strikes you as being cobbled together from more familiar films. You have another teacher as alien like in "The Faculty," but they are teaching sixth graders (which makes them about the age of the kids in "The Goonies"), the flying sphere from "Phantasm," the idea of being taken to another planet like in "Cocoon", and several other cinematic points of reference that you can discover for yourselves. But that is not the main thing that makes this film fun.

THIS FILM IS DUBBED. That is because this is a Danish film and its original title is "Vikaren." Directed by Ole Bornedal ("Nightwatch") with a screenplay by Bornedal and Henrik Prip. When you pop in any of these Ghost House Underground DVDS you get the trailer for "Saw V" (or as we like to call it "Emily's Revenge," because it stars Scott Patterson from "Gilmore Girls"), and the trailers for the other seven GHU movies. The interesting thing about the trailer for "The Substitute" is that you cannot tell that this is one of those gloriously badly dubbed foreign movies that were a staple of afternoon and late night TV when I was a lad. Usually those were Japanese science fiction films like "The Mysterians" or any of the rubber suit monster movies, or the Italian muscle man gladiator type flicks. But just hearing those overly serious English voices mismatched with the lip movements of the actors takes me back to those halcyon days of yore. I forgot to check the DVD to see if you could listen to "Vikaren" in the original Dutch, the way you can listen to the Russian track on GHU's "Trackman," but as much fun as it is to listen to Dutch there is no way it can be as much fun as listening to this dubbed version.

The film stars Paprika Steen as Ulla the strapping blond Vikaren, in an over the top performance that plays well against the kids trying to respond to the crazy substitute teacher that wants to take them back to her planet so they can learn about love (this alone should indicate how big of a difference it makes to do this movie with sixth graders instead of hormonal high school students). Steen, of course, is familiar to Danish audiences in recent years as Line Anders in six episodes of "Der Kommissar und das Meer." Anyhow, she shows up as the titular figure and tells her young charges that they are stupid because they do not know anything whereas she knows everything, which she proceeds to demonstrate. She picks on poor Carl (Jonas Wandschneider) who has "lost" his mother, and Carl makes it his mission in this movie to find out what's up with Ulla. Then the problem is convincing the other kids, not to mention their parents and the town's inept authority figures, before Ulla takes the kids on the world's longest field trip.

The bottom line here is that if you intend to take this film seriously, you are probably not going to like it, especially by the time the chickens come home to roost in the finale. There are some surprisingly decent special effects in "The Substitute," which is interesting because you would think they would not bother given the hokey nature of the story and performances. But ultimately that expenditure of money only adds to the film's odd charm (emphasis on "odd"). Apparently Ghost House Pictures is going to remake "Vikaren" for American audiences, and I guess if we can remake Japanese horror films and Korean horror films then we can remake Danish horror films (although really it is more science fiction than horror). But I have to tell you, having the cast actually speak in English might well take a lot of the fun out of this one.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good Oct. 26 2008
By N. Durham - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Denmark's answer to The Faculty, The Substitute ranks among the best of the Ghost House Underground flicks. Even though it may be a bit more sci-fi than horror, The Substitute stars Paprika Steen as an alien in the guise of a teacher. A young student named Carl (Jonas Wandschneider) still grieving over the death of his mother suspects something is very, very wrong here, and sets out to prove she's from another planet. But as her ultimate agenda begins to surface, will Carl be able to stop her in time? The Substitute features some impressive set-pieces and special effects that make up for the otherwise pedestrian story, and the film's atmosphere is wonderfully moody and ominous. The film's ending leaves a little to be desired, and the dubbing fluctuates from being decent to atrocious, but for the most part, The Substitute is a surprisingly good trip. All in all, The Substitute is one of the best flicks that Ghost House Underground has to offer, and is definitely worth checking out.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ulla Harms does not exist... Aug. 3 2011
By trebe - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Part of the Ghost House Underground series, The Substitute (2006) is an alien encounter film from Denmark with an odd twisted story that generally holds your interest. With solid production values, quality special effects, and some creative camerawork, it is a good looking film. Being dubbed in English is something of an impediment, as although the dialog makes mostly sense, some of the lines could definitely have been improved. Despite some rough spots, the plot translates pretty well across the cultural barrier, although some of what happens doesn't make sense regardless of what country you are from.

A silver globe from another world, lands on a poultry farm somewhere in rural Denmark. A flying glowing light escapes from the globe, and after dealing with farmer Jens Peter Hansen, who has come to investigate, enters the mouth of his wife (Paprika Steen) while she is sleeping, and takes over her body. Assuming the name Ulla Harms, the woman somehow is appointed as the substitute teacher to a group of sixth grade students.

Ulla's unorthodox methods immediately make an impression, as she calls her students stupid, and seems to know intimate things about them. Ulla's weird and controversial practice of berating her students, soon has her up for review before a group of parents, kids, and the school's administrator, but when she arrives with the education minister, who provides a glowing testimonial, the parents are won over.

After Carl (Jonas Wandschneider), one of the students, discovers some strange evidence in Ulla's bag, he leads a group of his classmates that includes Phillip (Nikolaj Falkenberg-Klok), Albert (Jakob Fals Nygaard), and Rikke (Emma Juel Justesen) over to Ulla's home. Some of the kids enter and see some very strange things, including their teacher having a meal, but when the kids bring a group of parents over later to take a look, the place looks immaculate. Dressed in pajamas, Ulla wins over the parents again, and announces that as a reward, the class will be taking a trip to Paris by bus. Carl's father Jesper (Ulrich Thomsen) winds up piloting the bus, taking the reluctant students to the farm where the alien originally landed, for the film's dramatic conclusion.

Children, many making their film debuts, have significant roles, and with their voices dubbed, it's kind of hard to judge their performances, but overall, they appear to be quite good, with no one trying to be too obvious, or radically overacting. There are a few times when the kids are out of control or say ridiculous things, but mostly the dubbed dialog makes them sound kind of analytical, as they often don't speak or act like your typical kids. Carl's father Jesper, an author, and Rikke's mother Maria (Sonja Richter) a cop, are the parents with the most prominent roles.

The suspension of disbelief that The Substitute requires isn't that difficult. What makes the film work is the quirky performance of Paprika Steen, who kind of plays Ulla, the alien looking for love, as emotionally detached and slightly robotic, often with a semi-blank expression on her face, and incorporating some odd mannerisms into her movements. With an acerbic attitude toward her students, yet sweet as honey to the parents, the effect that Ulla has is fascinating, as you don't really fear her, or hate her for carrying out her mission. You just want to see what weird things she will do.

Creepy and atmospheric, with some very solid special effects, The Substitute isn't a spectacular alien takeover film, but the story is engaging, and features some interesting performances. The English dubbing indicates the target audience, and while not entirely successful, the film translates pretty well. It's worth a look for something in the genre that's just a little different.
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