Anders Morgenthaler | 2007 | 80 min | Denmark
EKKO opens with Simon, a policeman and loving father with his son, Louis on his shoulders, walking towards a beach house. When they arrive, Simon tells Louis to go try and find an open window to sneak into. When asked if he doesn't have a key, Simon says that of course he does, but it's more fun if they pretend to be burglars. It's clear instantly that he doesn't have a key. While Louis looks for a window, Simon starts to pick at the lock. Louis then startles him from inside by throwing himself at the glass door, sending Simon reeling back onto his ass. Yes, he's on edge because of breaking into a house he shouldn't be, but there's obviously something else.
We soon find out that this seemly gentle and caring father has kidnapped his son after a court ruled that he was to have his joint custody taken away from him. This last bit of time with Louis is the most important thing in the world to Simon. We slowly discover that allthough he does love his son and wants to spend time with him, it's partly out of selfish reasons that he's brought Louis to the abandonned beach house. Simon needs to prove to himself that he's a good father. That he's not the same as his father was, and that he can look after his son without letting his past overwhelm him.
Directed by Anders Morgenthaler, the director of Princess, he's again made a film with an innocent child and its conflicted guardian for main characters. EKKO isn't as outwardly violent as Princess, but suppressed hurt and anger bubbles just below the surface.
Shot beautifully by Kasper Tuxen, and anchored by a very believable father/son rapport between Kim Bodnia (Simon) and Villads Milthers Fritsche (Louis), EKKO is a film that would have been great if it weren't for some misteps. The introduction of Simon and Louis and their time spend in the house alone is as touching and realistic a father/son bonding sequence as recent years have produced. As soon as the film starts to introduce characters other than Simon and Louis though, their isolated world feels rudely intruded upon. What's worse though is that while clearly conceived as a drama-turned-horror-film by Morgenthaler, the way he's externalized Simon's demons doesn't quite work. He would have done much better to rely on the performances and the subtletly of things unsaid. When things get loud and ugly, the film unravels.