We tend to associate epic disaster movies with big, Hollywood blockbusters – the likes of San Andreas, Titanic or the recent Everest – but with Scandinavian cinema going through something of a golden era, it comes as little surprise that now we’re seeing immense, ambitious endeavours from that region – and Roar Uthaug’s The Wave proves that you don’t need a huge budget to triumph in the ineffably cinematic sub-genre. But where this picture stands out is by remaining true to its native sensibilities, as a distinctively intimate, character piece that blends the resourceful nature of European cinema, with the grandiosity of Hollywood.

This Norwegian thriller is set against the serenity of the Akneset mountain pass, a popular spot for tourists, to enjoy the tranquility of this picturesque landscape. However any such relaxation is soon discarded, in turn for pure terror – as there’s a violent tsunami on the horizon, which has been spotted by geologist Kristian (Kristoffer Joner), just days before he plans on leaving the company and moving home for pastures new. Though warning his fellow colleagues, a lack of evidence means they’re reluctant to call for an emergency evacuation – but perhaps they might’ve been wise to listen, when the ground begins to shake, and they realise all of their lives are in severe danger. Kristian is more concerned with securing the safety of his wife Idun (Ane Dahl Torp) and his two young children, who are stuck at an inconveniently placed hotel, with sits on the unforgiving coast.

The effects are mightily impressive within this title, allowing for us to immerse ourselves in the narrative at hand, and get a sense for the immensity of the forthcoming wave. No doubt a Hollywood remake could be on the cards, mind you. But this feature thrives in the set-up, as the way we build up towards the tsunami makes for edge of your seat, unspeakably gripping cinema, as Uthaug’s sense of pacing in the build up is remarkable, as he abides affectionately to the tropes of the genre in a way that is comforting, with definite influences deriving from the likes of The Impossible and The Poseidon Adventure. It’s melodramatic, of course, and overtly theatrical – but it would be disappointing if it wasn’t.

However it’s within the pay-off where this production is lacking, as when we approach the latter stages there is an inclination to leave reality behind and become somewhat mawkish and predictable. It’s frustrating to see the picture end in such a manner, but thanks to a truly thrilling and absorbing opening act, we’re completely on board and ready to be swept away to wherever this accomplished filmmaker may take us.