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Creepy and unnerving art-horror from Sweden’s Ronny Carlsson, whose talent for surreal apprehension is put to unforgettable use.

The Package
     This digitally lensed feature, a sequel of sorts to Ronny Carlsson’s 2010 short RECOMPENCE, was shot over the course of three weekends, with a $3,000 budget and an on-set cast and crew of just 6 people. As of September 2012 DUST BOX has yet to be distributed, but I expect that situation will change in the coming months.

The Story
     A young woman wants to have a baby but can’t, a fact that depresses her and her boyfriend greatly. But then one day, to her great surprise, the woman discovers she’s become impregnated. Her joy, however, quickly turns to anxiety and terror. Among other things, she suffers from nightmares involving a strange box in a field whose surroundings grow increasingly stark and blood spattered.
     In short, the poor woman is losing her mind over how her baby might turn out. She eventually gives birth…but is that birth “real” or just another nightmare?  For that matter, was she ever really pregnant to begin with?

The Direction
     It seems this film has already attracted some controversy due to its unprecedented genre mixing. Ronny Carlsson has listed his major influences as Ingmar Bergman, Andrzej Zulawski and Andrei Tarkovsky, not names you normally hear recited by horror filmmakers (who are more likely to evoke the likes of George Romero and Joe Dante). Carlsson’s oft-kilter tastes are evident in the visually evocative nature of the film, which is anything but a traditional horror movie--or for that matter a traditional art film. It’s more an atmospheric mood piece, marked by an ever-present sense of hallucinatory dread and little-to-no demarcation between dream and reality. The rich cinematography by Mikael Johansson is instrumental to the overall impact, as is the eerie sound design.
     If the film has an overriding flaw it’s that it appears to have been conceived in a form similar to that of RECOMPENCE--i.e. as a short film. Even at a quick 72 minutes DUST BOX feels overlong and drawn-out, with a few too many repetitive shots of the heroine wandering through desolate cityscapes and forests.
     Yet the film’s nightmarish aura is undeniable, and evoked with enormous skill. Equally undeniable is the mark it will leave on the psyche of the receptive viewer.

Vital Statistics

Film Bizarro Productions

Director/Screenplay/Editing: Ronny Carlsson
Producers: Ronny Carlsson, Preston Carnell
Cinematography: Mikael Johansson
Cast: Mariah Kanninen, Robert Ericsson, Ronny Carlsson, Nathalie Bergenstrahle