Inga is the maliciously evil neighbour from hell in this dark and affecting cautionary tale of suburban warfare escalating out of control between residents of suburban Reykjavic, Iceland, but it could happen anywhere.
The trouble starts when Inga’s next door neighbours, Eybjorg and her husband Konrad, find that the large tree in Inga’s garden casts a long shadow in theirs, and makes it difficult for Eybjorg to sunbathe on her patio, poor dear, so she sends Konrad over to ask Inga if her husband Baldwin could trim the tree and give them more sunlight. Inga responds by telling Eybjorg to just move out of the tree’s shadow if she wants to sunbathe and then throws at her some faeces that Eybjorg’s dog Askur has deposited in her garden, fortunately wrapped. You then gradually realise, as things escalate, that Inga is becoming unhinged, and learn that one reason could be the loss of her favourite son of two, Uggi, who disappeared a few years back, rumoured to be a suicide.
Meanwhile her other son, Atli, has problems of his own after his wife Agnes catches him watching a film of himself having sex with a former girlfriend and throws him out, forbidding him to see their four year old daughter, Asa. Atli responds by taking Asa out of school for a camping trip and gets barred from his house when Agnes changes the locks. He then moves in with his parents Inga and Konrad and gets embroiled in the neighbour-war which has escalated more, now featuring slashed tyres, and the disappearance of Inga’s cat, for which she blames her neighbours, and takes a terrible revenge on their innocent dog, cranking it all up to end in shocking and tragic violence.
Interestingly for this viewer Under the Tree is described as a “comedy”, albeit a black one, but if there’s anything to laugh about it passed us by. It was, however an unexpectedly edifying and thought-provoking experience. with a lot due to fine acting by Edda Bjorgvinsdottir as the she-devil Inga, Sigurdur Sigurjonsson as her less insane husband, Steinthor Hroar Steinthorsson as their surviving son, likeable but hot-headed Atli and Lara Johanna Jonsdottir as his hurt and then spiteful wife. Also making valuable contributions are the neighbours, Selma Bjornsdottir as sun-worshipper Eybjorg and Thorsteinn Bachmann as her twice -married husband, Konrad,who the delightful Inga rates as a “loser” They make it a film to watch more than once, especially for the jaw-dropping twist just before the end-credits.
Under the Tree is to be released in a Dual Format Blu-ray and DVD edition by Eureka Entertainment as part of their Montage Pictures range. It is directed by Icelandic director Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson and will be On Demand from January 14, 2019.