• James Rutherford

'Evil': A Forceful and Provocative Drama Set Within an Elite Swedish Boarding School


Movie poster for the Swedish film Evil (Ondskan)

"Evil" ("Ondskan") (2003) is a forceful and provocative Swedish drama set in 1958 and starring Andreas Wilson as Erik Ponti, a fierce and calculating preparatory school student in Southern Sweden. Eric arrives to the rural Stjärnsberg Boarding School following expulsion from his previous academy for repeated acts of flagrant violence—his headmaster decisively classifying Erik as "pure evil" upon dismissal.


At his new school, 15 year-old Erik sets his mind to neutrality and the suppression of his violent tendencies in order to advance academically. Unfortunately for Erik, an imperious cadre of upperclassmen constitute the Student Council and enforce a brutal reign of tyranny over the student body. When Erik refuses to obey the demands of two councilmen he becomes the target of relentless abuse—an onslaught he resists with ferocious determination. Indeed Erik's assailants are woefully oblivious to the the burning fire he carries within, nurtured by years of tortuous abuse at the hands of his step-father.


Co-written and directed by Swedish filmmaker Mikael Håfström ("Derailed", "1408"), "Evil" is an absorbing illustration of violence and its inextricable link to burgeoning manhood. Wilson anchors the storyline, delivering palpable ferocity under a steely cool gaze—his extrusive presence felt at every step as he navigates increasingly perilous conditions. Absorbing, foreboding and highly cinematic (tip of the hat to cinematographer Peter Mokrosinski), it's a breathtaking depiction of morality and personal reclamation.

 

Watch the trailer: