THE RINGMASTER aka FINALE (2018) Reviews and UK release news

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‘Entertainment knows no boundaries’

The Ringmaster aka Finale is a 2018 Danish horror feature film written and directed by Søren Juul Petersen, based on the novel All the Things She Wished She Didn’t Understand by Steen Langstrup. The movie stars Anne Bergfeld, Karin Michelsen, Damon Younger, Kristoffer Fabricius and Mads Koudal.


During the night of the biggest sports final of the year, two women working at a remote gas station experience strange incidents. Is it just staged pranks or is it something much more aggressive?


“Personally, while I could have done with a little less realistic violence, I found myself gripped by the film. I cared about the heroines and I was impressed by the way Petersen directed it. There’s some interesting social commentary along the way too, particularly about how the internet and ‘Big Brother’ are stripping society’s privacy away and enabling access to increasingly disturbing things. Finale is a relentless ride that packs a punch and will likely leave a lasting impression.” Entertainment Focus

” …there are layers of audience here, from those shown around the edges of the ringmaster’s arena to the possible presence behind security cameras at the petrol station to the viewers watching in the cinema or at home. Finale doesn’t have a lot to say that’s new – indeed, that seems to be part of the point – but there’s some impressive work here nonetheless…” Eye for Film

“Changing attitudes mean that audiences don’t have much of an appetite for this anymore regardless if the bad guys get their comeuppance. As regards the level of violence and what is termed extreme, it needs a point. Trauma and A Serbian Tale had them, sort of, Finale doesn’t.” Film News

Finale is a horror movie that builds the suspense by building on the initial mystery. It then delivers with brutal violence. The exploration of torture as a form of entertainment provides an additional level of creep […] The performances were wonderful. The strength of the actors shines through their characters and allowed us to see the range of emotions they are going through from boredom to fear, and pain.” Guild Master Gaming

“The storyline in Finale isn’t told chronologically. We know from the very beginning that the girls will be trapped, but keep jumping back to the gas station to see how the evening evolved for Agnes and Belinda. Whether you like this type of flashback storytelling is very individual […] it offered the necessary comic relief and helped us get under the skin of the characters.” Heaven of Horror

“It is a rather unexpected development that is interesting but somewhat of a concoction between The Purge, Hostel and Saw. There are also elements of inspiration from Wes Craven and his knack for breaking the proverbial fourth wall. The horror we witness is visceral and disturbing. But more significantly avoids the pitfall of the genre of showing gore for the sake of gore […] The Ringmaster himself does become less terrifying as the more theatrical he becomes and seems to be channeling the Joker in a lot of ways.” HeyUGuys

“First time feature director Søren Juul Petersen’s debut offers an interesting insight into themes of voyeurism and violence. Although it boasts a strong first half, that runs mainly as a cat and mouse thriller, the film gets muddied around the halfway point. Here Finale descends into madness, and some of the slow intrigue that has been building-up deflates.” The Hollywood News

“The first half is well-played and judged, and the tensions between the women are interesting, but the second half is much more formulaic with a long torture session – and a climactic burst of fight-back action.  There is one minor, interestingly cynical innovation in the outcome, which addresses something fudged a bit in most sicko-internet-subscriber movies, theorising that the amoral maestros of Escapismus don’t much care whether their own minions live or die or their victims die or escape since anything sufficiently violent will keep their customers slavering.” The Kim Newman Web Site

“Based on a solid core, namely actresses Anne Bergfeld and Karin Michelsen as Agnes and Belinda respectively; a truly villainous antagonist in The Ringmaster, played by Icelandic actor Damon Younger; and a script, story and structure that made for tense viewing, Finale‘s Frightfest screening felt like a breath of old-school horror fresh air in a sea of horror-thrillers and as such it was very welcome and richly needed.” Nerdly

” …the film offers up a range of other, intradiegetic cameras and viewers to reflect and refract our own casual vice as pursuers of voyeuristic pleasure. “There are cameras everywhere,” as one of the customers puts it – and Finale offers theatricalised thrills, reminiscent of My Little Eye or Dhogs, that place us uncomfortably in a long tradition of sadistic spectacle and vicarious sport, while asking what morbid curiosity drives us to seek out horror in the first place.” SciFiNow

“Overall, Finale is a thrilling ride from start to finish, with excellent performances from the cast. Petersen presents a thoroughly enjoyable, tension-filled flick. Its most shocking moments aren’t its torture scenes, but its sharp depiction of the human psyche — of humanity’s deepest, darkest desires and the lengths to which we’ll go in order to survive. The ending not only packs a punch but refuses to accept that the fun is over.” Screen Fervor

” …disturbing with some extreme violence and female nudity present, but nothing viewers of the Saw franchise haven’t seen before. Not everything works, there is a pointless introduction from a tenor channelling Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and the film unsuccessfully tries to link Roman Gladiators to the sick online spectacle we have witnessed. Peterson must be applauded for skilled work though…” Starburst


In the UK, Danse Macabre is releasing The Ringmaster, will be screened in cinemas from 2nd December 2020, with a DVD and Digital release date on the 30th November.

Cast and characters:

Anne Bergfeld … Agnes Berger
Karin Michelsen … Belinda Andersen
Damon Younger … The Ringmaster
Kristoffer Fabricius … Benjamin
Mads Koudal … Kenny
Kim Sønderholm … Escapismus Henchman #1
Gustav Scavenius … Escapismus Henchman #2
Lars Knutzon … Prologue Presenter

Technical details:

100 minutes

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