The Bull and the Girl by Stefán Máni.
A short synopsis by Alexander Dan.
Opening scene, the present: Two tourist girls find themselves stranded in the remote parts of east Iceland when their car breaks down. They head to a nearby farm, Uxavellir, which at first seems to be abandoned. There is no one in sight, only the paranoid bark of a dog inside the house. One girl heads into the barn and the other inside the farmhouse. In the darkened barn she finds a body sticking out of a barrel, surrounded by dead rats. She panics and flees, only to come across a dismembered corpse hanging from a meat hook. Inside the house the other tourist finds that barbed wire has been laid out all over the living room, like a spider’s web. In the middle of the web is a kind of barbed wire cocoon, with fingers and hair sticking out of it. She screams and from upstairs loud steps are heard stampeding down, with a crazed voice bellowing like a bull.
Two years before: Hanna is a worn-out junkie in her thirties. She’s engaged to Anton, a brutish drug dealer in Reykjavík. She is secretly having an affair with Rikki, a low level thug and burglar who works for Anton. Hanna and Rikki play cards at his kitchen table. Rikki is about to head out and Hanna asks him if it’s to sell the bag of cocaine. He says that’s not why and that she’s not to take any of it. She agrees and Rikki leaves, kissing her goodbye. Later that night Hanna storms into a nightclub bathroom and cuts herself a line. She gets distracted by the high and the bag of coke is stolen from her. Hanna gets into a fight and is carried out by a couple of thugs.
Childhood memory: Hanna grew up on a farm out in the country. Her brother, Óskar, is sad because he can’t attend school even though he is six years old, because he is special. She tells him that the local school isn’t equipped to teach special kids. She tries to cheer him up by promising that she’ll try to get him a cat as a pet.
The thugs work for Anton, Hanna’s fiancé, and they take her to his place. He beats her up and demands to know where she got the coke – since it wasn’t from him. She avoids the question, tries to lie her way out of it, which causes Anton to torture her brutally. When he pulls out a gun she gives in and says she’ll call the dealer. She rings home and asks for her brother Óskar, but her father picks up. When Anton realises what’s going on he beats her to near death.
Hanna is being discharged from the hospital when her father, a large, rough farmer named Jónatan, pulls up and demands she come with him instead of Anton. Hanna becomes agitated and tells him to leave her alone and that if he hurts a hair on Óskar’s head that she’ll kill him.
Jump to two years later. Ríkharður wakes up in a prison cell in a small town in eastern Iceland. The police chief interrogates him about the fight he got into last night, but doesn’t find out much – Rikki is however able to put together that he is not wanted, after having spent two years abroad in exile. He is let go and he hitches a ride to a remote farm out of town – Uxavellir. He stakes out the farm and spots the farmer as well as his grown-up son, who is playing with a large bull. Rikki hides and waits for nightfall. He tries to break into the house but a barking dog stops him. He will have to find another way.
Back two years ago, Anton’s thugs drive Rikki around in a white Chrysler, robbing houses in the night. Rikki breaks into the last house and finds a big score of electronics, jewellry and a bag of diamonds that he pockets for himself. Back at Anton’s place he hands over the electronics and jewellry to pay back Anton for the bag of coke he lost. Paranoid, Anton demands that Rikki strips, finding the bag of diamonds he was hiding. Rikki tries to claim that they belong to him, his debt is more than covered already, but Anton says that he’s decided that enough is never enough. Anton puts together the lost coke bag and Hanna’s cocaine trip and demands that she explains herself. Hanna pretends that she doesn’t know Rikki at all and Anton beats him up before his thugs remove him.
In the light of day Rikki heads to the farm and tries to get Jónatan, the farmer, to hire him as a working hand. His mentally-challenged adult son, Óskar, is friendly, but constantly reprimanded by his father. Óskar introduces the bull as Hannibal, his best friend. Rikki tries to push Jónatan into hiring him for cheap, but the farmer won’t budge. As a last resort then Rikki sneakily burns the bull with his cigarette, throwing it into a rage. The bull charges at Jónatan and injures him. Hannibal is restrained and Óskar is made to get the gun for Jónatan, who shoots the bull. All three drag the bull into the barn, where they decapitate and skin it. Óskar is traumatised but forced by his father to slaughter his friend.
Hanna takes the bus to Rikki’s place. They discuss the incident with Anton. She explains that she took his coke because she was bored. Rikki doesn’t understand why she is with Anton, but Hanna says he used to be nice before he got a direct cocaine connection from Florida. Rikki says they should steal the diamonds and elope, that they deserve better. The diamonds are worth 20 million krónur and will settle them for good. They decide to do it in a few days.
Rikki is invited to dinner at Uxavellir for all his help slaughtering the bull. Hannibal’s tongue and heart are served. Óskar refuses to eat his friend, which gets him a scolding from his father and mother, Rósa. Rikki learns that Hanna, their daughter, has been dead for two years. Rikki fakes an injury and manages to get an overnight stay in the house.
Hanna hears from Anton that he’s taking her on a surprise trip to Florida the next day, the day before her and Rikki plan to steal the diamonds and elope. She is forced to execute the plan early, but can’t get a hold of Rikki. At home she makes them drinks and puts a hefty amount of sleeping pills in Anton’s drink. She pushes Anton to try his drink, which makes him paranoid. She is forced to take a sip herself. She tries to throw it all up in the bathroom, but it’s not enough. When she gets back, Anton has finished his drink and she drags him into the bedroom, where he passes out. She tries to get back to her phone to call Rikki, but the drugs overpower her and she blacks out.
Rikki sneaks around the house in the middle of the night, looking for something but finding nothing. He accidentally wakes up Óskar and chats with him. He tries to figure out if Hanna contacted them before she died, but gets nowhere. Óskar shows him a picture of the farm’s pride – the award-winning bull Uxi. A picture of the bull hangs in the farmer’s office, as well. Rikki searches the room lightly and finds a dead cat under Óskar’s bed, hooked up to a battery. He was trying to bring it back to life. The next day Rikki still can’t get himself a spot as a farm hand and is forced to leave the farm.
Jónatan shows his teenage daughter a hardcore pornographic magazine. “I know you have been sneaking a peek,” he says. Hanna refuses and he calls her a liar. She is just about to reach confirmation age. He starts fondling her and when she tries to push him off, he hits her and violates her. She looks away, up at the picture of the award-winning bull that watches over them, vacant and drooling, like an idiotic god.
Hanna wakes up on the floor. She is still wobbly from the drugs and tries to call Rikki, who doesn’t pick up. She texts him: call me. She gets dressed, opens the locked safe and steals the diamonds. As she walks out she hides from the thugs in the white Chrysler, returning to Anton’s place. That’s when she realises she forgot her phone. The thugs find Anton and the opened safe. They throw him in a cold shower to wake him up. As they see a missed call from Rikki on Hanna’s phone they know where to go. Anton is still recovering, but tells the thugs not to do anything to Hanna if they find her.
Rikki is staking out the farm. He sees Óskar going far away from the farmhouse, where he sits and talks to himself by a small brook and a large rock. He appears to be placing something into the rock. Under cover of night Rikki sneaks inside the barn. He passes a barrel filled with drowned rats and the bull, hanging on meathooks. Jónatan’s office is modest and he finds nothing there except really disturbing porn mags. He heads out towards the brook, where Óskar was during the day. He finds the skin and head of Hannibal there, which have been stitched together to the legs. The rock is a large lava pillar, filled with small holes and crevices. Rikki only finds small items and junk in there and trashes the place in anger.
Hanna hails a cab and heads downtown, trying to get to Rikki before the thugs. She arrives just as they do. She loses all hope, is sure that Rikki is as good as dead. She has no money for the ride and when the cab driver agrees to accept sex for the ride she bites off a piece of his ear. Meanwhile, Rikki is pacing in his apartment, nervous because of Hanna’s text. He hears the car screeching outside his door and manages to knock out Anton’s thugs and get away.
Óskar sees that his sister’s rock has been trashed. He thinks that her spirit is angry at him. He meets Rikki later, when Óskar is working in the barn. Rikki says that he was Hanna’s boyfriend and asks how she died. Óskar says that she fell off a building. Rikki asks if she sent something before she died, a package of some sort. Óskar gets agitated and says that the gift is a secret. Rikki calms him down and explains that he just wants to see what she sent, that is all. He was Hanna’s boyfriend and can be trusted. Óskar heads inside to fetch the gift.
Hanna wanders around town. There’s no hope: it’s all over. She finds a place where she can fence the diamonds, but is only offered mere 10% off their real value, because they are stolen. She buys drugs for the money but gets jacked. She uses her last bit of money to buy a statue of an ox and send it to her brother. She calls him and tells him the gift is Uxi, before she is cut off.
When they were kids, Hanna lead Óskar to their secret place, by the rock. He can’t go to school, so she is teaching him how to read. She says that this is his secret weapon and nobody can know about it. They make up a secret language together so they can speak together in code.
Finally, Óskar returns to the barn with the gift. It’s a statue of an ox. Rikki shakes it and sees that something is inside it. He smashes the statue and picks up a small chain with a key on it – Hanna’s necklace. Upon seeing him break the statue, Óskar completely loses it and charges at Rikki, smashing his head into the floor over and over. “Fucking rat,” he says as he picks up the key from Rikki’s limp hand.
Hanna is drugged out in some party when Rikki finds her out on the balcony. He asks her about the diamonds, but she avoids the question. He thinks that she’s sent them off to Óskar. Rikki gets mad but says that it’s alright, they can still leave on their flight in a couple of hours and sell her engagement ring to get by until they can return. Hanna refuses to sell the ring and Rikki pushes her, accidentally throwing her off the balcony.
Óskar sits in the secret place, with Hannibal’s head in his lap. He looks at a doll’s head in the lava pillar. He talks to her sister in his mind and realises that this is the key to her diary, the one their dad has been looking for. He figures out what she meant. It’s Uxi. He goes in his father’s office and takes the photograph of the bull Uxi off the wall. Behind it is a thin book. He opens it and starts reading. It’s written in the siblings’ secret language. Hanna writes of her father abusing her sexually.
Hanna is thirteen and about to take a bath when her mother barges in on her. Rósa stops when she sees that the child is pregnant. She asks who did this to her and beats Hanna when she doesn’t reply. At last she says it was her father. Rósa throws Hanna into the bath and suffocates her. Later, Hanna is confirmed and no one knows she is pregnant. She hates the little monster growing inside of her. Her aunt asks what is troubling her, but Rósa keeps her away from Hanna.
Hanna wakes up in a wet puddle and is assaulted by pain. She screams for help and gives birth to a baby twelve hours later. Hanna is not allowed to see the baby. She starts to write a diary. Her dad searches the room, but is unable to find it.
In the christening everyone is congratulating Rósa for the son and Hanna for her brother. Hanna’s aunt tries again to hear from the girl what the matter is, but Jónatan keeps her from Hanna. The baby grows and Hanna sees that he is not a little monster, but a big child.
Hanna is thrown out of a car by Uxavellir. She has been raped and beaten by four boys. She tells her mother, who calls her a whore and beats her. Hanna is working in the barn when her father clears her throat and pushes her into his office, where he rapes her. Rósa is in the house, making dinner, Óskar is watching cartoons. She is seventeen. Her life has become a routine, mundane hell.
Jónatan is staring drunk at the television, Rósa is knitting. Óskar walks in and heads upstairs. “Moo,” is all he replies when his parents ask what is going on. He comes back down with the rifle in his hands, cloaked in the rank hide of the bull, the stitched skin from the head covering his face like a mask. “I found Hanna’s diary,” Óskar says. Jónatan and Rósa scold him, call Hanna insane and a liar. Óskar points the gun at them and fires off into the air. Rósa collapses on the floor, clutching her heart. He tells his father to follow him outside. “I am Hannibal,” Óskar says with a monotone voice. “I am here to punish you.”
Closure to the opening scene: The police cover the scene of the crime on Uxavellir, where three murders have taken place. The two tourist girls, who called the police after seeing Óskar storm out in the bull’s skin, are terrified seeing the police bring him calmly in. The police chief thinks to himself that the trouble maker, Rikki, is probably to blame for this, Óskar is a gentle person that is as likely to murder as a five year old. He will probably be sent to a good institution or asylum in the country, where he can leave all this behind.