The Reel Review


When two young sisters are found murdered in the forest just outside of Reykjavik, the city’s lead detectives start questioning the local registered sex offenders to find the killer, in this Icelandic crime thriller.

A passerby discovering the crime scene in Cruelty (Grimmd).

The whodunit reads like a moodier, broodier episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigator, just with lots of beautiful Icelandic backdrops. But there is a twist. Margrét Vilhjálmsdóttir (The Seagull’s Laughter), as investigator Edda Davidsdóttir, has history with the suspects. She has a personal vendetta against one of them, is friendly with another who is mentally disabled, and is the sister of yet another. Now that’s complicated.

Margrét Vilhjálmsdóttir in Cruelty (Grimmd).

The uneven story and very slow pacing requires a lot of attention, despite strong performances by the ensemble cast, excellent cinematography, and an interesting look at how just the interrogation of a suspect can ruin that individual’s life. There are several disturbing moments and a twisty ending that, while not hugely surprising, certainly lives up the title of the film.


Cruelty (Grimmd) is writer/director Anton Sigurdsson’s second feature film. In 2014, he became the youngest director in Icelandic history with the debut of Secret & Lies.

• Hannes Óli Ágústsson, who appears as one of the sex offender suspects in Cruelty, also appears as Olaf Yohansson in 2020’s Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

Cruelty (Grimmd) was filmed in and around Reykjavik.


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