Toronto After Dark 2023 Wrap-Up | UFO Sweden Review

by Andrew Parker

A delightfully charming throwback to the high concept, family friendly sci-fi adventures of the 80s and 90s, UFO Sweden (which took home the prize for Best Sci-Fi Film at this year’s Toronto After Dark Film Festival) dazzles with good humour and big emotions.

For years, foster home teenager Denise (Inez Dahl Torhaug) has believed that her biological father isn’t missing or dead, but rather he was abducted by aliens as a result of his investigating unexplainable astrological phenomenons on behalf of UFO Sweden, a paranormal investigative group. One day in 1996 (where the bulk of the action takes place), dad’s missing car mysteriously crashes into a barn, and tech savvy, world weary Denise tries her best to rally all of her father’s former co-workers into taking up the case once again.

Swedish filmmaker Victor Danell – credited here as part of the Crazy Pictures collective – makes UFO Sweden a fast moving (if slightly long) romp through an array of creative set pieces (including a pretty memorable car chase) that help to approximate the feeling of watching an old school blockbuster. There’s a healthy amount of quirkiness to be found in UFO Sweden, and some of the character motivations (particularly those who seem to be painted as villains) don’t make a lot of sense, but the Crazy Pictures team never leans heavily into nerdy sci-fi stereotypes or easy gags. There’s also a wonderful performance from Jesper Barkselius as the embattled team leader, who never quite knows what or who to believe. He pairs nicely with Torhaug, who delivers a winning turn as the rebellious teenage protagonist with a lot to learn.

UFO Sweden screened at the 2023 Toronto After Dark Film Festival, where it also won the Volunteers Choice Award, named in honour of longtime volunteer and friend of the festival, Harvey Lalonde.


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