A film with very little dialogue but with lots to say.

by Nav Qateel

Markus Blunder’s directorial debut, Autumn Blood, is a brave sort of film to attempt as your first. It has little in the way of dialogue, with the first words being spoken taking almost 40-minutes to be heard. Not that it wasn’t effective for this type of revenge film, as it certainly was, but it’s not your typical debut film. At times I expected it to become another I spit on Your Grave, with beautiful scenery, but it never attained that level of violence, which I’m rather thankful for.

The cast were each impressive, with the stunning Sophie Lowe giving a splendid and brave performance as the young girl who is brutally raped by several villagers. Lowe was also fully naked a few times, which I thought rather unnecessary, as pleasing to the eye as her form was. I’ve been a fan of Peter Stormare for quite some time now, and I couldn’t begin to estimate how many of his films I’ve seen now, although, in most he played the bad guy. In Autumn Blood he plays the mayor of a small village in the mountains. The characters are never named, with the end credits listing them as “The Girl,” “The Mayor,” “The Butcher” and so on.

A family of four live high in the mountains near a small village. The film opens with the father being shot dead and now the mother is left to raise the girl and very young boy on her own. A few years pass, and while the girl is laying in the sun nude after a swim, one of the local men out hunting (The Hunter) sees the girl and brutally rapes her. The mother dies and the kids are now on their own but two friends of the hunter and he decide to visit the girl again, where she’s subjected to another attack. After the postman sees the state the girl is in, the social work are contacted and when the rapists find this out they decide to cover their tracks by killing the boy and girl.

Autumn Blood
Directed by
Markus Blunder
Sophie Lowe, Peter Stormare, Maximilian Harnisch
Release Date
Nav’s Grade: B-

Autumn Blood becomes a game of cat and mouse for the kids through the beautiful Austrian mountains, as the three men try to ensure they never get to tell the social worker what happened to them. The third act could have been a little more exciting if someone a bit more experienced was helming, however, the scenery certainly made up for any shortcomings I felt. We also discover a connection from the death of the father to the Mayor, however, what it was exactly I didn’t quite understand. Just make sure you pay attention to the father’s death and when the time comes at the end, perhaps you’ll figure out what I couldn’t. I wish I had the time to rewatch those parts again, but sadly I don’t.

Great acting and scenery were in Autumn Blood‘s favour, and without the excellent performance by the lovely Sophie Lowe, I’m not sure I would’ve got as much pleasure from this film as I did. Lucky for director Markus Blunder, not having any dialogue for so long paid off, and made for a great way to get the audience to focus on the breathtaking beauty of the scenery, then have us snap out of the illusion of peace by the rape. The dead silence immediately after the first rape as the camera panned the valley was also very effective, like the calm before the storm.

I’ve never been a fan of seeing rape in film but this was just bearable, yet very convincing. The first rape happens while there is still no one speaking, and just after raping the girl, the hunter fires his rifle in the air. To me it was part threat to the girl but that’s an oversimplification of what we’re meant to take from it I’m sure.

A solid first effort from Blunder whose gamble paid off handsomely, giving us a film that most should enjoy, particularly those of you who like slow boil thrillers. Interestingly, I noticed Markus Blunder was involved with a film I remember from my youth, titled Enemy Mine, made in 1985. If you like sci-fi and haven’t seen it then I highly recommend you do.

Spoiler Alert! I have a theory on what the presents meant but I could be wrong. The Mayor was in love with the girl. He was a peadophile and left the gifts for her. This could explain the events.