A masterful blend of historical drama and the horror genre results in a fresh take on both that brings to mind both Tarkovsky and Hammer horror. The plotting keeps one riveted to the screen throughout until its grand guignol style finale. Performances are very good especially the two leads Ville Virtanen and Tommi Eronen. Production values are excellent.
Sauna is about the futility of forgiveness through religion (simply our actions have already taken effect, thus one has to deal with its real-world repercussions) but it takes the film's entire runtime to come to that prolonged conclusion. The abstractly metaphorical final act also unsuccessfully covers up the thinness of the narrative weight. There are some good dramatic moments strewn throughout, though.
The movie was wonderful, the cinematographic experience is unforgettable, the atmosphere leaves such a melancholic feeling in your chest. Personally, I love horror movies that have a distinct poetic sub-tone with a hint of homo homini lupus est :P However, the only remark I have is that the movie was far too short for my taste (only 1h 19min), but on the other hand, maybe prolonging the plot would be kitsch...
Still one of the most gorgeous and innovative genre films to surface in years. Everything - from the large, sparse locations to the excruciatingly detailed costumes and maps - is perfect. Technically the image is crystal clear, but from the story the film has a grittiness that feels like hundreds of years of filthy history has wiped itself against the lens. "Sauna" is a beautiful and subversive experience.