Leonora’s family is starving. In the wake of a nuclear event, everyone is starving. Leonora (Gitte Witt) and husband Jacob (Thomas Gullestad) are doing their best to keep their young daughter Alice (Tuva Olivia Remman) safe in an increasingly violent and unsettled world, but they cannot put enough food in her belly. Leonora was an actress in the time before the apocalypse so she may not have needed much convincing to take in the new play being mounted in an abandoned hotel, but considering the pay-what-you-can tickets include dinner, it’s a done deal.
The dinner is real enough, but the play turns out to be more like interactive theatre, which is enough to spoil even a starved belly’s appetite. Mathias’ (Thorbjørn Harr) particular brand of dinner theatre requires patrons to wear masks as they discover the actors in different scenarios, macabre or shocking or enticing. But the show blurs the line between performance and reality; the masked guests grow increasingly weary as they pass from one dreadful scene to another. But when Alice goes missing, Leonora’s frantic search turns up some uncomfortable truths and the guests, transforming from spectators to spectacle, must confront the true cost of an evening’s entertainment.
Cadaver has an interesting premise and a disappointing follow-through. It cultivates an atmosphere of dread and tension capably but resolves them predictably. Writer-director Jarand Herdal sets his horror in a world I’d like to know more about but then all but shuts it out, locking down his subjects in an old hotel, the likes of which we’ve seen before, and seen better.
The guests’ desperation and Mathias’ instinct for survival are the most banal and expected conditions in this post-apocalyptic world. I suspect the more interesting stories were taking place out in the streets, just beyond the hotel’s doors.