The Conference, or Konferensen, is a Swedish horror comedy film on Netflix that intends to give a few chuckles while also being a typical slasher-horror presentation. The plot follows a group of municipal employees who arrive at a resort for a team-building exercise when things start to go incredibly wrong as a serial killer goes on a murderous rampage. There is nothing remarkable or exciting in the film’s premise or ending, and a rather predictable plot makes The Conference an average watch.
Plot Summary: What is the film about?
The Conference begins with a group of colleagues from a municipal office driving up to a place named Kolarangen, where they are about to commence a big project. As part of the municipality office, the team has approved and arranged for a huge modern shopping mall to be built at the place, which is still quite rural and underdeveloped by metropolitan standards. A plan to build an enormous housing facility with all modern and luxurious amenities is also in the works, and together with the shopping mall, Kolarangen is expected to turn into an extremely developed neighborhood in the next few years.
The group first makes a stop at the site of the shopping mall, as the groundbreaking ceremony for its construction is to be held the next day. Ingela, the head of the municipality office, congratulates all her team members, especially the project lead, Jonas. It is Jonas who has arranged for most of the deals with large companies like Ikea to immediately buy up space at the shopping mall and start a business. The man immediately comes off as extremely self-obsessed and disrespectful towards others, especially towards another colleague, Lina. After having been away from her job for a few weeks due to some unmentioned physical or mental illness, Lina has returned to the municipality office, and her unwillingness to get into any stressful situation is made fun of by Jonas and his sidekick colleague Kaj.
The team then makes their way to the nearby Kolarsjon holiday village, a sprawling resort where the municipality workers will spend the night. This excursion has been termed a team-building exercise in order to gain tax benefits, and most of the members are not very excited to spend such a long time with their colleagues. With a conference and then some team activities planned for the day, the group settles in at the resort. However, a man in full tactical gear and carrying tools and weapons makes his way towards the same resort. Very soon, he starts to kill the staff at the resort one after another, making it evident that the municipal workers are his real target.
What does Lina uncover about Jonas?
A major piece of information with regard to the construction of the shopping mall at Kolarangen is revealed quite early on in “The Conference.” Despite the municipality workers and officials wanting to uplift the area and make it popular, the residents of the place are extremely against such construction. They are actively against letting the city folks build shopping malls and then luxurious gated communities, which would surely destroy the original fabric of society. Kolarangen is visibly a very agriculture- and farming-based area, with most people in the place being farmers. Therefore, to people who have always survived on the blessings of the harvest, their land is much more important than any urban development plan. Because of this, there have been ongoing protests as well, and a number of families in the region have also directly announced that they will fight back for their rights till the very end.
There is also an environmental angle present, for the construction of a shopping mall and a neighborhood would result in the destruction of trees, open fields, and farmlands. One of the municipality workers, Anette, is particularly against this, but the others have convinced her that they were all adhering to the environmental laws and that nature would be compensated in other ways. When the group has their conference at the resort and then discusses the work throughout the day, the project lead, Jonas, is revealed to be unaffected by environmental damage. To him, people like Anette or the elderly colleague Torbjorn are very old-school, whose words and opinions are not to be given any serious consideration.
It is with Lina that Jonas has the biggest argument, which leads to the woman finding out other things, and then the effect of all this continues till the very end of the film. During the conference, Lina goes through one of the files and finds something extremely suspicious: a compensation clause they had earlier agreed upon is missing from the official contract. One of the local farmers in the area, named Palsson, had been very determined to never give up his land for the shopping mall construction, and some of the workers, including Lina, understood his concern. A farmer would obviously not want to give up his land and, essentially, his livelihood without any monetary compensation. Therefore, the team had agreed to keep monetary compensations for each of the farmer families whose lands were being taken away.
However, this clause or any mention of the compensation to the farmers is missing from the official paperwork, making Lina and the others feel confused. It is clear that Jonas had actually removed any such monetary clause in order to invest more of the money in the project. To him, who comes off as a typical capitalist, the best way to do things is how he has planned to do them. The man is more concerned with the big corporations that he has teamed up with for the shopping mall and what renowned brands will be opening up their stores there. The suffering or difficulties of the common man are beyond the consideration of such a man.
To make matters worse, Lina finds her own signature on the contract despite knowing very well that she would not have signed such an agreement. When the woman asks about this, Jonas and Kaj state that she had indeed signed the contracts before she had gone away on leave and make it seem as if Lina is misremembering things. This makes it seem possible that Lina might have gone through some psychological troubles in the recent past, because of which the other colleagues also feel that Jonas’ claim about her having forgotten about the agreement is true. However, this keeps eating away at Lina’s mind throughout the day, until she decides to act on it.
In the evening, when she gets a chance to be by herself, Lina sneaks into Jonas’ room and goes through the files on his laptop. She quickly finds out that the project lead has been involved in a number of malpractices, including having forged her signature. The documents that have her actual signature on them were dated at least a week before she took the emergency medical leave. But the final contract about acquiring the land from the farmers had not been prepared by then and was made much later, when Lina was already on leave. This makes it clear that Jonas and Kaj had indeed forged the woman’s signature onto the contract, making it appear like Lina had read it and approved of the plan. They knew that she would never agree to leave out the farmers’ compensation, and so they did not even try to convince her and instead faked her approval.
The documents on the laptop also reveal that the big brands and businesses that Jonas had apparently convinced to open their stores in the new shopping mall had never agreed to anything like this. It was all being lied about by Jonas, and this was because he was acting in the interest of the corporation he was working with, Backmann-Kroon. The municipality team leader wanted the shopping mall work to fail so that Backmann-Kroon would get hold of the seized land for cheap, and the corporation had already agreed to make Jonas their employee when this plan succeeded. In fact, Jonas had even signed a pre-contract agreement with the company and was now working accordingly.
Lina copies all of this information onto a USB drive and then directly confronts Jonas about it. Feeling cornered, the man first attempts to get Lina onto his side, but the woman threatens to call the police if he does not tell everyone about what he has been up to. It is at this time that the serial killer finally starts to attack the municipality’s colleagues, and so this argument between Lina and Jonas has to be cut short. A little later, when the two have to flee on a raft, Jonas makes his second attempt to save himself, as he threateningly takes away the USB drive from Lina and then throws her into the water. Despite being found guilty of gross corruption and malpractice, Jonas remains confident that he will get away, and he succeeds, too, for the time being.
What Is The Identity Of The Killer?
When the mysterious killer starts to take down the resort staff one after another, it is already clear that he has planned for this rampage in a very minute manner. The man stalks the workers and kills them without much effort, and when he finally gets to the municipality workers, his planning is visible once again. The killer attacks the colleagues inside the resort, and knowing that they will run away towards the forest, he had already fitted sharp wires on the trees to bring them down. The very violent means that he employs to commit the murders make it clear that he is extremely vengeful against them.
Therefore, it can already be expected that the killer has some personal anger and frustration against the municipal workers. The colleagues also come to this conclusion and believe that a man named Frans must be the masked killer. Frans is someone who works at the environmental office and was, therefore, very openly against the plan for the shopping mall construction. The colleagues believe that Frans is now killing them for revenge, especially since Anette had told him of their excursion to the Kolarsjon resort before they had come.
However, when Anette tries to approach the man and calm him down, she sees his face and realizes that the man is actually not Frans. Instead, the killer is revealed to be Palsson’s son, who remains unnamed. After their land was almost forcibly taken away by the municipality without any monetary compensation whatsoever, Palsson committed suicide out of fear and guilt of being unable to support his family anymore. It was his son, a young man at the time, who had found his father’s dead body in their barn, and this had greatly affected him. After this discovery, the man had openly promised to keep fighting for the rights of the farmers, and his interview in the newspaper had also been published. Thus, when he found out about the municipality workers coming to Kolarangen, he made the plan to kill all of them as revenge for his father’s suicide.
Who Among The Office Colleagues Survived The Massacre?
The Conference moves towards utter chaos and gorefest towards its end as the killer murders everyone he can get his hands on. Kaj was the first among the colleagues to be killed, as he was brought down inside the jacuzzi pool. Since Ingela was the face of the municipal works, the vengeful farmer wanted to make a striking image through her death, so he hanged her from the flagpole, making a public display of her. When Anette tries to calm down the murderer, he strikes her with an ax on her head, and the woman keeps walking around with the weapon still stuck to her head until she finally dies the next morning. Lina’s closest colleague, Amir, dies in an effort to protect her from the sharp spokes that the killer had arranged on the other side of the zipline.
As Lina survives and wanders through the forest, she is able to find one of their phones and contact the police with it. While waiting for them to arrive, she has one last confrontation with Jonas, who attempts to kill her, and in return, Lina rips off his already injured scalp, killing him in the process. During The Conference‘s ending, the serial killer is brought down by Nadja, Eva, and Torbjorn. It is finally these four colleagues who survived the massacre, and the construction work will also surely be canceled as a result.