In Order of Disappearance Screened at Fantasia is One Rollercoaster of Laughter and Violence
"Who... are you?!" a horrified Mrs. Dickman asked, no longer recognizing the man she once loved. "Nils!" was all that Mr. Dickman could reply, knowing the mention of his name now had little significance to her. While this short exchange of words seemed meaningless at first, Mrs. Dickman's question is one that remains embedded in our minds throughout In Order of Disappearance's 115 minutes on screen.
As Nils tries hard to avenge his son who was murdered by a gang of drug lords, we wonder if redemption could truly be found through excessive violence. This thought is ultimately reflected upon in the final sequences of the film, when Nils rides off into the snowy sunset in his snow blower, accompanied by none other than the leader of a Serbian drug cartel. As they find acceptance of each other, having both lost a son and having enacted their revenge, they seem to wonder if all was worth it and if they could finally rest.
We could easily lose ourselves in this moment, contemplating this question indefinitely... but we shouldn't, and the film won't allow it. Right before the credits hit the silver screen, a catastrophic and completely absurd event takes place--one that I shall not name--recalling to our attention that none of this should be taken seriously.
In this delicious piece of black comedy, director Hans Petter Moland toys with our emotions, constantly plunging us into scenes so dark, so serious, then sapping us on the cheek with moments of hysterical laughter, awkwardness and confusion on how to react. The idea of passing away is portrayed as one big joke of life each time a death card is revealed. While intricately designed, indicating nickname, real name and a symbol reflecting the deceased's religious beliefs, it also becomes excessive and predicting at the end as the death toll rises. And as we've become accustomed to the construction of the film, we all know after Nils brutally murders someone, we'll find a body wrapped in chicken wire, falling to the depths of a nearby waterfall.
We are aware that if The Count calls someone in, they'll never be paid, and they'll soon meet their unexpected demise. We are used to the jump between complete seriousness and ridicule, to the point it seems natural.
What were you saying about redemption through violence? Forget about it. Instead, embrace the beautiful landscape, these cocaine hills that swallow you up from the very first seconds of the film. It's funny how telling just those opening sequence are: it's a cold, pale, deathly atmosphere we're entering after all.
And it's elements such as these that allow us to lose ourselves in the film's intense moments--the murder of Nils's son, the quiet annihilation of The Wingman, the heated showdown at the end... It is easy to forget all of this is cruel comedy, although we are constantly reminded of the fact.
We need to remember, In Order of Disappearance, just as anything else in life, shouldn't be taken too seriously. Do so, and you'll be completely lost.