Also known as
Sweden [1921] - 107m
Drama, Fantasy
Directed by
Victor Sjöström
More info on
The Phantom Carriage poster


November 04, 2020


One of the biggest classics in Swedish cinema, often cited as one of the all-time horror greats and almost always linked to German expressionist cinema. That raised my expectations, sadly I found a very melodramatic and overly sentimental film with some minor fantasy touches.

The last person who dies before New Year has to drive Death's carriage for an entire year and collect all the souls of the deceased. David Holm, a drunkard who once led a joyous life, gets hit on the head with a bottle right before the clock strikes 12, his old friend (and the one who led him astray) shops up and transfers the job of carriage driver to David.

Some characters are ghostly apparitions, that's about as horrific as it gets. They're not made to be scary though, so the film's categorization is more than a little deceptive. Performances are grossly overstated, the cinematography and sets are rather plain and the endless drama is tiring. Supposedly a big influence on the cinema of Bergman, if I'd known that up front I'd been a lot less excited. Disappointing.

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