A bloody “conference” which reveals the tableau of Swedish society! The genre film is perhaps one of the few free spaces for self-critique of our own society. In the past, films like “The Purge” or “Red State” have been able to address very current issues through intriguing images or hyperboles of our society. “The Conference”, a Swedish horror film, follows in the same vein.
A bloody conference?
The plot is quite bewildering. A company comes to promote a real estate project in a Swedish town. The project disregards any environmental imperatives, and the team that comes to hold a conference in the said town is met with jeers. However, a bloodthirsty killer will eliminate the guests one by one before the end of the conference.
Swedish humor, often highlighted by Roy Anderson, an advertiser and artist, is a key element in this horror film. The style is rather gory, marking the return of the gore film that dominated the horror cinema in the 90s, during the heyday of the Avoriaz festival. In recent years, with films like “Conjuring” or “Sinister”, bloody scenes have been replaced by a more implied horror cinema (which is not necessarily a bad thing). However, in “The Conference”, the somewhat gory scenes are tinged with humor and fantasy, making them less unbearable than 90s horror cinema.
“The Conference”: the tableau of Swedish society!
In this conference, you can find all the clichés of contemporary society. Two cheerful and foolish upstarts are portrayed by Adam Lundgren and Christoffer Nordernrot, willing to do anything for a good check. A conscientious and engaged worker with biting humor is beautifully embodied by Bahar Pers (who had already shone in “Mr. Ove”). Completely disillusioned workers, close to retirement, expecting nothing from society or their companies. A woman of the same age, a fanatic of the ecological and social cause. And finally, the heroine emerging from depression.
It’s a perfect portrait of today’s Swedish society, with “clichéd” characters that nevertheless reflect Sweden as we know it. To borrow the example of Roy Anderson</b, these few-second commercials said more about Swedish society than a history book.
It’s in this humorous representation of Swedish society, and in a form of hyperbole of current struggles, particularly the social and environmental cause, that director Patrik Eklund succeeds in his endeavor. Sometimes, with simple elements, one can say much more about a society than by piling up heavy and indigestible analyses.