Film Review: The Guilty (Den Skyldige)

Gustav Möller’s The Guilty (Den Skyldige) is a very impressive directorial debut. The filmmaker makes the most of the confined setting, creating a taut thriller. 

Asger works in an emergency call centre, directing help to those in need. Asger is cynical about those he is supposed to help, until he receives a cryptic call. He faces a race against time if he is to help his caller…

The Guilty takes place within the confines of a small office, with all of the action taking place over phone calls. The initial premise is reminiscent of 2013’s The Call, although The Guilty is more Locke than this, in terms of quality phone-based movies. 

Möller presents viewers with a jaded protagonist. Asger has something upcoming, but the filmmaker holds this back, gradually leaking details as the narrative progresses. Möller sets up his lead character succinctly with his first few phone calls. Asger is developed in an authentic manner as he deals with the stressful situation. 

As the main narrative strand gets under way, The Guilty starts to build tension. This sense of unease is effective, especially considering the confines of the set up. There are frequent phone calls, but with different characters to keep the audience guessing. The central premise is a race against time, and protagonist’s limitations play into the tension. 

Möller’s twist is unpredictable, and carried out in a most effective manner. The director manages to inject genuine emotion into his thriller, in a way that is not at all jarring. After the reveal, it seems as if the film has little where to go. Nevertheless, it is concluded in a suitable fashion, with Asger’s own issues finally made clear. 

Jakob Cedergren delivers a most convincing performance. Given that he is mostly interacting with voices, Cedergren portrays the varying emotions in an empathetic and genuine manner. Lighting in the film makes the most of the confined space. The sound design is on point. 

The Guilty is a solid thriller which uses its limitations to its advantage. A tense thriller that is not without emotion.

The Guilty (Den Skyldidge) is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2018, and available in UK cinemas on 26th October 2018.

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