William, buried under fabrics and hidden away in a room insulated from electromagnetic waves, knows people think he is exaggerating. He suffers from electrosensitivity, a controversial condition in which people report symptoms from exposure to things like mobile phone radiation, pylons, and other wireless devices. William describes the pain as like having your head caught in a vice.

Director Marie Lidén isn’t so interested in whether electrosensitivity exists or not. Rather, what William is experiencing is real to him, and its effects have had long-lasting impacts on the lives of him and his family.

It’s a film of isolation and hope. William is alone in Sweden’s woods, in a cabin without electricity, in which he spends most of his time in a room coated with materials that keep the waves out. Sitting there like Casey Affleck in A Ghost Story, cinematographer Michael Sherrington shoots the bizarre scene like a Roy Andersson film. Lumbering around his own home hardly able to see from under all the layers of fabric, William’s dad calls him The Ghost.

But his parents retain their optimism. “When he gets better, he’ll need all sorts,” his dad says, ten years on from when William’s symptoms began, still banking on his condition improving. Despite feelings of poor mental health, William retains a joy for life, the world outside his cabin a lush wilderness.

Yet the film’s folk-horror approach uses the visual language of this tranquil forest to represent the invisible danger that attacks William every time he steps outside too. It’s easy to imagine the man who lives alone under layers of blankets becoming a local urban legend.

Electric Malady is refreshingly empathetic in dealing with a condition which isn’t easily understood. Whatever the truth is, it’s a highly unique story of a man impacted by something, forced to life his life in a most unfortunate way.



DIRECTOR: Marie Lidén

SYNOPSIS: Electric Malady is an intimate window into William’s isolated world living with electrosensitivity, and a moving and poignant depiction of a family devoted to their son.