What happens when vampires decide to take on Sweden? You eighter get Alexander Skarsgard as True Blood's Eric, a typical modern day vampire-hunk bad boy or you get the in every way grey and cold Let the right one in or you might get the horrible and pretenous Not Like Others. Or you might get Frostbitten.
Frostbitten is with little competion the most crazy and non conventional mainstream Swedish ever made. There are crazier low budget and underground Swedish films like the cult film Evil Ed (1997) and the horrible attempt at cult film Die Zombiejager (2004) but as far as mainstream films goes this takes the cake. Most Swedish films are rather lame drama films or drama films that pretend to be comdies. It's hard to finance films in Sweden and the only secure way to pull off a big budget movie is by seeking money from the Swedish Fil m Institute who support films that will have cultural value. You see where we are going here? To be able to seek money from the SFI you need to have a producer who has atleast made 5 feature films which has made it almost imposble for new filmmakers to get a shot. The SFI has little interest in horror, sci-fi, action or fantasy as these are not seen as serious genres. The only people making horror films are horror fans who make them on their own buck. Being a horror fan in Sweden is not easy.
Then in 2006 came Frostbitten. Based on a 1998 draft by Daniel Ojanlatva which told the tale of the remnants of a vampiric clan taking shelter in month long polar night of Sweden director found an idea he wanted to see turned into a film. After 8 years of rewrites the script was finished and through a miracle of the old Gods and producer Göran Lindström Sweden got it's first vampire film. The plot might sound like a riff on 30 Days of Night but there is no milarity other than vampires in the polar night. Both are fine films in their own right.
Frostbitten also has the best Swedish tagline ever: One dawn till month...
I know that do not sound any special in English but in Swedish it's as scary sounding like: In space, no one can hear you scream.
But enough with that, onto the review. And please excuse my horrible English.
Swedish Dracula in-making
Frostbitten opens directly with a beautiful opening credit sequence of falling snow in front of a full moon set to the Rusan song "Dark Night". This is a move of pure genious as it sets everything up perfectly. The muc makes you think of the East European mountains where most our modern view of vampires comes and the lyrics warns the viewer( after ung google translate) of the dangers of the cold, dark night. It's also a WWII song that was meant to refer to the east front, which is also right because of what comes next.
The muc has hardly faded out before we see warm, red blood flowing in the cold, white snow. It's 1944 in Ukraine and we see a group of Swedes who made the horrible decion to fight for Hitler getting their a**es handed to them at the hands of the Red Army. A brave sergant(Per Löfberg) leads his few survivng friends into the endless Ukrainian woods. They eventually comes across a cabin where they seek shelter. This proves to be an even worse move as the cabin hosts an enemy you can't kill.
Nazis get what they deserve
This one hell of an opener. The scene lasts for 11 minutes and is very grim and scary. It plays out kind of like Dog Soldiers with vampires and Malin Vulcano is terrifing as the cabin vampire. The CGI is subtle and wonderfull practical effects dominate. The film then cuts to modern day Sweden where the doctor Annika(Petra Nielsen) and her teenage daughter Saga(Grete Havensköld) travels to what we assume is Kiruna, the northmost town in Sweden. Annika is eager to move as she will get to work with the famous genetician Gerhard Beckert(Carl-Åke Eriksson). Some how the name sound familiar, but you can't but the finger on it. Saga is not as happy, as she has moved from the big city to a small town in the middle of nowhere, knows no one and there is an entire month until dawn. But they have hardly packed up their bags until a local boy is killed by an unseen monster. Now the film abruptly changes direction and becomes a horror-comedy a la American Werewolf in London and The Lost Boys. This is when Saga in introduced to her new classmate, Vega(Emma Åberg). Emma Åberg is the real star of the film. She handles the character with such skills that she turns it into the most memorable performance in the film. Vega seems to have far more than friendly intentions towards Saga( it seems pretty likely that Vega wants to have her way with Saga) and behaves utterly werid. Among other things she invites Saga to go see the fresh corpse(the local boy) at the hospital, claming to have a contact there and trying to get her parents arrested for the death of said local boy.
The real star
At the hospital Annika and the audience is introduced to Beckert in a hillarious spoof of Nosferatu. We are also introduced to the interns Sebastian(Jonas Karlström) and Lucas(Måns Nathanaelson) who spends their time having weelchair rallys and ung needles as darts. There is also a breif but funny apperance of
Thomas Hedengran, of the recent horror film Marianne, as a doctor. Meanwhile, Vega's friend and fellow troublemaker, the slick and slimy John( pop-guitarrist Niklas Grönberg) and his metalhead buddies Joel(Gustav Johansson) and Robert(Jonas Lawes) are planning a big party at John's house. John promises it will be a party the town will never forget. We know it won't.
At the hopital Sebastain stumbles over a red and eerie glowingly pill Beckert has been treating a patient with. He shows it to Lucas who jokes about how it's drugs the good doctor has been making. Sebastian tries the pill and rather than making hom high, it gives him the hunger.
Sebastian is infected with bad CGI
Sebastian's transformation into a vampire is a riot. Being a vampire gives him superhearing which allows him to hear the extreamly weird conversations of his neighbours and the abillty to speak to dogs. Appearently thats one to the vampire's powers. The dogscenes are hysterical and the dialoge between Sebastian and his girlfriends dog makes me smile every time. There is also a amazing dinner sequence when Sebastian vits his girlfriends parents. The father is a priest, the home is full of crosses and they are having garlic trout for dinner. How would a vampire react to a man saying grace before dinner? Bunny lovers should be warned about this scene.
Confused over his new senses and urges, Sebastian steals an entire can filled with these.
red pills. Vega, having promised John to bring drugs for the party, mistakes them for a new kind of drug and steals them from Sebastian. She, John and Robert takes these pills as Saga and the other unknowing
partyguests make their way to John's house...
Oh! Did I mention there is over one month till dawn?
?w=497Saga realises the Vampires of Norrland means serious buness
Frostbitten is a real hidden gem.The acting is mostly strong, Åberg and Karlström are fantastic. Many people will overlook Malin Vulcano and Per Löfberg, but they deliver notable performances and utterly unsettling performances. Grete Havensköld is solid and Niklas Grönberg very funny and ontop of that makes a great vampire. There are two cops played by Mikael Göransson and Anna Lindblom who has some hillarious moments such as when Göransson's character makes an attempt at interogation Sebastian. The only bad actors I could think of in the film in Robert Lawes, who is pretty wooden for the most part but ok I guess and Linnea Jonsson who plays a character who has little to do other than(litterary) get her face snogged off by John. Carl-Åke Eriksson as the Van Helng-esque vampire-killing doctor Beckert is a pretty standard performance. Not bad, but not special.
I was also suprised how dark and abrubt the ending was.
The muc is a fantastic compotion by the Dane Anthony Lledo. The score is magical and thundering. It's by far the best muc ever put in a Swedish film. It sounds like a gothic mix between Danny Elfman and James Bernard. There is also nice rock muc by The Hives, Langhorns and Millenicolin. The cinematography( the film is shot on 35mm) is fantastic and despite a budget at about 3 000 000 dollars the film looks like a big budget film. Photographer Chirs Maris captures the dread and beauty of northern Sweden. Outde there is constant darkness and an eerie blue light is ever present. It feels more like another planet than northern Sweden.
The special effects are a mixed bag. The practical effects are good as it gets mostly. The CGI-transformation are really ugly buy thankfully few. Mostly the vampires are just make-up. The head vampire(Kristian Pehrsson) is a big disappointment. The build up do not match up to what we get. And the gore... Yes there is gore in this film. But most of it is off-screen. Often we see the result of an attack, a ripped-off face, a misng eye, a room covered in blood, but we don't see it actually happen. There is a some good stab scenes on the other hand and a scene with a lawn gnome which takes the price for funniest death in a vampire film. But the film is too short. Budget probably prevented the films climax from being longer but I would have wanted it to be atleast 10 minutes longer. The writting is equally mixed. The dialouge is good with a few snappy moments. Unlike other Swedish films the teens actually sounds like teens which is a huge plus. There are several good ideas worked into the script and the film has it's fair share of memorable characters. The film never suffer from pacing problems, but has to many characters. Several of the minor characters could have been melted into a fewer with more screen time. The film also does not use the polar night to it's full potential. It uses it to create a increang hopelessness as things go worse and worse, but they could have used it much better. There is not enough vampire action out in the dark. But it's still my favourite Swedish film of all time.
There are also alot of small homages to clascal vampire films like Dracula, Salme's Lot, the Hammer Dracula films, The Lost Boys and Fearless Vampire-Killers and to other horror films like Bad Taste, In the Mouth of Madness and Halloween.Final grade 7,5/10
FROSTBITTEN: Starring: Petra Nielsen, Grete Havensköld, Jonas Karlström, Emma Åberg, Carl-Åke Eriksson, Mikael Göransson, Niklas Grönberg, Anna Lindholm, Nour El-Refai, Gustav Johansson, Malin Vulcano, Aurora Roald and Per Löfberg Directed by Anders Banke, Written by Daniel Ojavantala
JacobMikael Göransson comes to terms with vampire attacks not being of bac training for the Swedish police