DVD review: The Substitute
This isn’t the 1996 Tom Berenger film, but instead a Danish import from 2007 directed by Ole Bornedal. “The Substitute” is part of the “Ghost House Underground” series of horror films selected for DVD release by Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi, the producer and director, respectively, of the “Evil Dead” films.
In “The Substitute,” an alien, puzzled by the concept of love, lands on Earth, mimics human form, and becomes a substitute teacher for a group of sixth-graders. She’s horrifically mean to them, and can read their minds. However, when the kids point this out to their parents, the kids are told they are being overly imaginative.
This is the kind of film that could have been made in the U.S. in the 1980s: A non-R rated horror film, like “The Goonies” or “The Monster Squad” that is aimed at the pre-teen audience.
Paprika Steen is suitably menacing as Ulla, the substitute. Jonas Wandschneider plays Carl, the student at the center of the film, already reeling from his mother’s death in a car accident prior to the substitute’s arrival.
“The Substitute” is clever, funny horror that’s almost entirely gore-free. There are some similarities to Robert Rodriguez’s “The Faculty,” but “The Substitute” is a better film.
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