Film: Sisu/Blood & Gold (2023)
Director: Jalmari Helander/Peter Thorwath
Why You Should Watch Them:
Remember a few years back how whenever there was an animated kids movie coming out, there would also be another similar movie out at the same time? Inevitably one of those animated movies was much better than the other, and it seemed as though the inferior film was just a money grab rip-off. When it comes to historical WWII films Sisu (2023) and Blood & Gold (2023) that’s not the case. Both of these films touch on similar themes and storylines and are a bloody good time in their own way.
Now I know what you’re going to say; but Wendy, these are historical action films, not horror! Yeah, yeah, I know but hear me out. In the same way that Alien and the Terminator franchises are sci-fi yet horror adjacent, so are these historical action films. There’s more blood, gore and real life terror in these films than many other horror films that I’ve come to enjoy. I’m suggesting them to you, gentle horror fans, because I know you’ll enjoy them too!
The initial similarities between these two stories are pretty obvious; both films take place during the end of WWII. Both films feature Nazi’s as the bad guys, and their greed for gold as the primary motivator. Both films also feature a sympathetic revenant main character who nearly die in the same manner and exact revenge against the Nazi’s in brutal detail. There’s also a slightly Looney Tunes, comedic undercurrent to these films which makes the over-the-top action scenes even more delightful. Limbs fly through the air and bonk bad guys in the face. Bodies splat on the ground like Wile E. Coyote. Some of the kills are laugh-out-loud funny. There’s humor beneath the cruelty that can only be enjoyed when a truly bad guy is getting what they deserve.
Of the two films, I watched Sisu first, and this is the order in which I would suggest you watch these as well. Sisu follows a retired Finnish mercenary who has lost his whole family to war. He lives on the edges of society as a loner and gold miner who finally hits paydirt. Along comes a troop of Nazi’s with a wagon of female prisoners in tow. The Nazi’s try to take his gold, but like in John Wick or Rambo, this guy has nothing to lose and racks up a body count of bad guys along the way.
I loved that Sisu featured a mature, grizzled main character who could still kick ass. Fans of the Finnish film Rare Exports may recognize the main character, Jorma Tommila and his son, Onni Tommila from the creepy Krampus film. The action, special effects and gore were super effective and the ending was satisfying. I also loved how the women in the film were empowered to fight back against their captors and weren’t pandered to or treated as an afterthought.
Of the two films, I would say that I enjoyed Blood & Gold just a little more, due to an excellent soundtrack and cinematography. I will say that the main character in Blood & Gold is a deserter who defects from the German army, someone I normally wouldn’t be sympathetic to. However, this film makes an excellent point that not all Germans were on board with what was happening during WWII, and many suffered at the hands of their own government. There was also a scene where we see one of the bad guys is out of focus and rising up from their bed that felt like it was straight out of a horror film. (**SPOILER**) Fair warning that almost everyone dies in this film, including a very beloved character, but no one goes down without a fight.
If you’re a fan of non-stop, historical action films and aren’t afraid of high body counts and tons of gore, I encourage you to check out both Sisu and Blood & Gold. Sisu is available to rent or buy and Blood & Gold is available to stream on Netflix.