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Besat (1999)

With an edgy style that echoes Zentropa's Riget / The Kingdom, this impressive Danish thriller cross-breeds Outbreak with Fallen as an investigation into a mystery virus leads to an encounter with the Antichrist. When a Romanian nurse dies in the parking garage of Copenhagen Airport, ambitious virologist Soren (Ole Lemmeke) clashes with his superiors and drags his student girlfriend Sarah (Kirsti Elin Torhaug) to a nightmarish Eastern Europe to investigate. Meanwhile, the Danish police search for Vincent (Udo Kier), a renegade priest who belongs to a repudiated sect that believes astral phenomena presage the arrival of the Antichrist, who is in this version a body-hopping demon - Vincent explains that anyone is only a handshake or two away from the President of the United States - whose passages are marked by power cuts and which intends to do great evil.

Soren is an uncomfortable hero, clearly out for his own reputation as much as to combat the unknown disease, and capable of dangerous grave robbery in an unsettling Romanian dog-pound in order to get the spinal sample he needs. And Kier's grim Vincent is an equally dubious crusader, concealing the makings of Molotov cocktails under porno magazines to get through customs, and becoming a Terminator-ish gunman to go after the demon. In the finale, the demon winds up in Sarah and Soren, finally convinced, tries to immolate her, though he ruins his life in vain as a typical kicker has the demon possessing a hospital cleaner. Like Fallen, it takes care to establish an exaggerated but credible real world before introducing the frankly preposterous supernatural themes; it is a far more impressive reading of the Antichrist theme than the more generously budgeted Kier-starring End of Days. Written and directed by Anders Ronnow-Klarlund.
KIM NEWMAN

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