Frightfest Glasgow: Pensive (2023)

Director: Jonas Trukanas

Running Time: 84 Minutes

Starring: Šarūnas Rapolas Meiliešius, Gabija Bargailaitė, Marius Repšys, Povilas Jatkevicius, Kipras Masidlauskas, Martynas Berulis, Saule Rasimaite

Billed as the first Lithuanian slasher, co-writer/director Jonas Trukanas crafts a taut tale which begins with a horrifying scenario; graduation. As the former students look for a last-minute venue for their party, the usually risk-averse Marius (Šarūnas Rapolas Meiliešius) offers a remote cottage his mother has the keys for. Within the setting are life-sized wooden statues, each representing the artist's suffering. When the inebriated classmates begin destroying the carvings, chaos ensues when a scarred killer begins murdering the graduates.

With full-time education behind them, the former-students use the party as an opportunity to show the sides they kept hidden for many years. While they hook-up and have a wonderful time, the graduates also consider the future as they face an important part of their lives ending before they scatter worldwide onto new paths. Such musings are thrown on the backburner, as the evening descends into mayhem with a rising body count.

There isn't much to the masked killer, resembling a Jason Voorhees cosplayer with a love for wooden statues. As the works get destroyed and defaced, he responds in-kind with such brutality. This leads to tense set-pieces where he stalks the teens trying to escape, including party animal Žygis (Martynas Berulis) who has moments of clarity in-between drug-fuelled madness, and the popular Rimas (Kipras Masidlauskas) with high prospects.

Central to the proceedings is Marius, who's been virtually unseen by his classmates and his parents. That experience doesn't change as the evening goes to hell, with him getting the wrong priorities. He's an effective criticism of the bland leads which often front films following students, as a glum facial expression substituting a personality or hobbies doesn't make him interesting, something the film addresses. A more likeable character is Vytas (Povilas Jatkevicius), the disheveled looking best friend who tries helping Marius come out of his shell, while striking up a relationship with the art-interested Saule (Saule Rasimaite). What's been crafted is an effective slasher which gets unsettling, and doesn't let the awful lead off the hook.

Pensive made its UK Premiere at Frightfest Glasgow