Janina is a schoolteacher who allows her dogs to roam free in the vast wilderness that surrounds her house in the serene Klodzko Valley, only to arrive home one evening and discover neither of them are there. Collecting her pupils and heading out with a search party to find the pets that she describes as her two best friends, her endeavour is in vein, and she eventually gives up hope. All the while she takes great issue with the culture amongst the local community to hunt, disgusted as some of the prominent members of society regularly go out to kill innocent animals in the woods. But it seems the hunters are now being hunted, as they start dying in mysterious circumstances one by one – and without any sympathy from Janina.
Holland and Adamik’s compelling thriller thrives in its indelible tone. The narrative itself is effectively a dark, sombre one – but there’s a vital lightness to the tale, and the two talented filmmakers play up to the relatively absurd undercurrent that exists, in an endearingly affectionate, overt manner, while at the same time never once compromising on the severity of the narrative. This is a tricky balance to get right, but one they’ve triumphed in.
Partly what makes Spoor so easy to enjoy and invest in is the character of Janini, brought to life in emphatic fashion by the wonderful Mandat-Grabka. Though incredibly likeable, there’s a stubbornness about her demeanour, as you get the impression that behind the kind eyes is a woman who will get what she wants, how she wants – and this makes for the perfect protagonist.