When Christmas tree factory foreman Oscar (Kyrre Hellum) is found by police, out cold, holding a shotgun and surrounded by dead bodies, he is left with some explaining to do. As he recounts his tale to suspicious cop Solør (Henrik Mestad), what unfolds is a story of mishaps on a threestoogic scale as his ex-con dimwit pals (Andreas Cappelen, Mads Ousdal and Arthur Berning) turn on each other after co-winning a hefty sum in a bet.
Jackpot is witty, funny, bloody, gorey and exciting and successfully does what all good comedy films should do: be watchable even before the laughs. As Oscar and co. lurch from disaster to disaster it’s laugh-a-minute without succumbing to farce, and as the plot thickens the humour isn’t left behind.
Writer Magnus Martens never wastes a chance for a gag, with Oscar’s increasingly agitated conversations with his not-too-sharp buddies, the peculiar interrogation technique of police detective Solør and some great slapstick too. Much like Tarantino films or Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, much of the humour is derived from low key reactions to ridiculous or violent events, and the four jackpot winners bounce off each other well. Throw into the mix some dumb cops, a corpse in a sunbed and a detached head that won’t stay put and you have a recipe for some grisly comedy.
The deadpan performances of all involved keep the story dark, as the plot takes some unexpected twists in the final act. Hellum‘s put-upon, hapless turn as everyman protagonist Oscar is the core of the film, with strong supporting performances too, the snowy Norweigian settings providing an original new backdrop for scenes of shootings, stripping and gambling that we’re more accustomed to seeing in big cities.
The gore is fantastically executed (pun intended) to hilarious excess as blood stains force Oscar to repaint his flat a violent shade of red, and a corpse is fed into a Christmas tree machine. This is not for the faint hearted.
There is an implausibility that runs through many of the film’s events, but this is dealt with when Oscar, in response to the accusation his tale is unlikely, points out how unlikely they were to win the money in the first place. Whether or not you accept this depends on how much you’ve bought into the film until this point.
Well balanced, funny and at times Tarantino-esque, Jackpot is a comedy thriller to rival its English language equivalents and is sure to gain a cult following. A safe bet for a fun 90 minutes.