One of the great things about horror is that I end up watching films from all over the world. I will eagerly watch a story told from a perspective (cultural, aesthetic, etc) different from my own, even if that story is old and familiar. I can’t imagine watching a retelling of You’ve Got Mail just because it was made in a foreign land with foreign actors speaking a foreign language. I’m not specifically shitting on romantic comedies, I just literally can’t imagine I would be entertained in the least. But point me to the most pedestrian Mexican retelling of Dracula and I’ll give it a shot. All this is a very tangential way of saying that I like foreign horror. So, I look forward to seeing films from places that I haven’t experienced (through film or in life) before. Goran from Croatia is just such a film. I know nothing about Croatia! And there was a little buzz surrounding the film as it’s showing at Fantasia (International Film Fest) 2016 approached. Nice! I watched and now I’m dutifully reporting back to you, lovely reader.
Goran (the man’s name is the title!) is one of those guys who wants to go his own way. He has a shitty old car that he operates as a taxi. He has a simple cabin in the woods where he and his best friend built a sauna. He has a blind wife who he deeply appreciates. He certainly doesn’t want to work at his bigoted father-in-law’s lumber company. That wouldn’t be going his own way. (besides, that guy’s an asshole) When his wife announces that she is pregnant, his world falls apart. It’s not that he doesn’t want a child. The bigger issue is that he (unbeknownst to his wife) is infertile. He’s sure that his best friend is the usurper. When he confronts him, he sets off a violent chain of events that will change the lives of his family and friends forever.
Let me say right off the bat that I would not categorize Goran as horror. Sure, it features some violence and death, but it lacks the dread and fear that I associate with horror films. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad film. (hopefully, that’s obvious. if you hate everything non-horror, you’re missing out on a lot of good shit) It just means that if you’re in the mood for horror, look elsewhere. In fact, I’m surprised that it played at Fantasia considering that it’s almost a straightforward drama. Almost. The anxiety and shock that Goran experiences along with the violence pushes the film very slightly into the violent drama category. It’s hardly a “genre film” though. Who cares though, right? As long as it’s good it doesn’t matter. So, is it good? Well, it’s not bad. And the shock, anger, confusion, etc. exhibited by the characters is very well played. The story is a I’m-glad-that’s-not-me nightmare but it’s pretty thin and it has some glaring contrivances and muddled logic. And there’s one scene in particular that goes nowhere and reveals so little that I’m surprised they left it in. The 80 minute runtime may be a clue as to why they did so.
The Final Cut: The performances in Goran carry the film just enough to keep the thin story interesting and the shocking (though largely off-screen and bloodless) violence sets it apart from a straight family drama, though not by much.