Thriller: A Cruel Picture

Bo Arne Vibenius, Sweden, 1974, 104 min.

When a film’s only redeeming quality is getting to see Christina Lindberg looking cool in a trench coat and eye patch, then there are problems.

This Swedish film received cult status the day Quentin Tarantino said that he loved it. Of course, he referred to it under it’s much better alternate title: They Call Her One-Eye.

On paper, Thriller: A Cruel Picture looks like it could be good, and if not good, at least entertaining. The film tells the story of a young girl who is kidnapped, forcibly addicted to heroine, blinded in one eye, and forced into prostitution. Don’t worry though! Her captor gives her one day off a week! Unfortunately for him, she uses that day to train in martial arts, firearms, and stunt driving (Yes, stunt driving!). With these new found skills, she tries to get bloody revenge on her captor and his clients.

Sounds like grindhouse at its best. But, unfortunately, it is incredibly slow, horribly directed, and very very stupid. Not that grindhouse films have to be intelligent, but the best ones are and the good ones are at least engaging and entertaining.

One of the most annoying things about this film is that the director used a high-speed camera. Not just once, or twice, or thrice. At least a dozen times the action goes into super-super slow-mo. The fight scenes, the gunshots. It was agonizing how long it takes for Christina’s fist to hit someone’s face.

Besides the poor direction,  another big problem was how muddled and strange the script actually was. I mean, she is forced to prostitute out of her captors apartment, but she gets a day off? Also, towards the end, after killing two people she waits by the bodies for no real reason. Two cops come, and then she kills them and takes their police car. She had a car… am I missing something? Then! Then she goes on this joy riding spree, riding other cars off the road and watching them burst into flame for no apparent reason.

Sure, the film makes a good poster and has a good plot summary, but who cares? It’s not particularly violent or graphic. There is some nudity and some blood, but the movie-going public needs something smarter. Christina Lindberg, no matter how cool she looks, should not be the only good thing in a movie.

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