A young American man hiking through Norway’s countryside just might be the modern incarnation of the Norse god Thor in Mortal, an intriguing new film from Norwegian Director André Øvredal. This is definitely not Marvel’s version of Thor, and while it shares a basic premise with the recent Netflix YA drama, Ragnarok, both visually and tonally, it’s a very different beast.
American actor and singer Nat Wolff stars as Eric, whom we first meet walking through the woods of the island of Askøy, near Bergen. He dreams of a fire breaking out and finds that fire is real when he awakens—and that he has an odd, painful wound on his ankle. Limping into town for provisions, he is confronted by local teenagers, one of whom mysteriously collapses and dies just from touching Eric. This brings him into police custody, where he meets a young psychologist named Christine (Iben Arkelie). She discovers that he has unusual electromagnetic powers that tend to run out of control whenever Eric’s stress and anxiety ramp up—which, alas, is quite often, given his circumstances. Christine seeks to help him control it; a US Embassy rep named Hathaway (Priyanka Bose) wants to control Eric, and if she can’t—well, she’ll just have to take him out (or try).
As a filmmaker with a foot in both Hollywood and his native Norway, Øvredal also brought us last year’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (adapted from the series of children’s books from the 1980s by the late amateur folklorist Alvin Schwartz) and the 2010 dark fantasy/mockumentary Trollhunter. (It’s fantastic, if you haven’t seen it.) Next he’ll be adapting Stephen King’s 1979 dystopian horror novel, The Long Walk (as always, coronavirus willing). We sat down with Øvredal to learn more about the process of making Mortal.