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SUBSTITUTE (DVD) (WS/ENG/ENG SUB/SPAN SUB/5.1) 6TH GRADE GETS A NEW SUBSTITUTE TEACHER. SHE WANTS TO TRAIN THE CLASS FOR AN INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION IN PARIS. BUT SOMETHING ISN'T RIGHT. HOW IS SHE ABLE READ KIDS' MINDS? WHY IS SHE SO MEAN? AND HOW DOES SHE MANAGE TO CONVINCE EVERYONE'S PARENTS SHE IS SO GREAT WHEN THE WHOLE CLASS KNOWS SHE IS REALLY AN ALIEN?
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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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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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!!!
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.
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.
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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