'See You in Valhalla': Film Review
Estranged siblings reunite after the death of their Viking-obsessed brother in Jarret Tarnol's comedy/drama
A dysfunctional family is uncomfortably reunited in Jarret Tarnol's strained comedy/drama that unaccountably throws Norse mythology into its awkward mix. Starring the appealing Sarah Hyland, who would have been much better off sticking with her Modern Family, See You in Valhalla desperately strains for humor and pathos amidst its sea of forced quirkiness.
The story begins with the bizarre suicide of the Viking-obsessed "Magnus" (Jake McDorman) which involves a meth dealer and a sword. Reuniting in their grief is his sister Johanna (Hyland, also one of the film's producers), who fled her hometown years earlier after a personal trauma; uptight brother Don (Michael Weston) and his insufferable, Republican teenage daughter (Odeya Rush); gay psychologist brother Barry (Bret Harrison), accompanied by his stoner/personal trainer Hawaiian boyfriend Makewi (Steve Howey); and widower father Woody (Conor O'Farrell) whose new girlfriend is his much younger, hippie nurse (Emma Bell). Making a later appearance is Johanna's ex-boyfriend (Beau Mirchoff) whose arrival leads to a dramatic revelation about Johanna's past.
The resulting strained interpersonal dynamics are the focus of Brent Tarnol's (the director's brother) cliché-ridden script which culminates in, you guessed it, the family deciding to give Magnus the proper Viking funeral that he deserves.
Featuring stereotypical characterizations and painfully awkward dialogue, the film treats its dramatic themes with a wince-inducing shallowness. Virtually nothing in the drawn-out proceedings works on any level, and the characters are so inherently unlikeable that being in their company is as painful for viewers as it is for them. And while Howey provides some goofily amusing moments and Hyland manages to invest her role with emotional grace notes, the rest of the performances are strictly one-note.
By the time the seemingly endless film finally its conclusion, audience members will be experiencing a powerful desire to reach Valhalla themselves.
Production: Tarnol Group Pictures
Cast: Sarah Hyland, Steve Howey, Odyea Rush, Bret Harrison, Emma Bell, Jake McDornan, Beau Mirchoff, Michael Weston, Conor O'Farrell
Director: Jarret Tarnol
Screenwriter: Brent Tarnol
Producers: Bernie Gewissler, Sarah Hyland, Matt Prokop, Brent Tarnol, Jarret Tarnol
Executive producer: Michael Wilson
Director of photography: Gavin Kelly
Production designer: Susannah Lowber
Editor: Joseph D. Carella
Costume designer: Victor A. Sandoval
Casting: Barbara J. McCarthy
Rated R, 82 min.