Making it’s world premiere at the Fantastisk Filmfestival,Wither (Vittra) proves that Sweden can proudly stand-up with the rest of their Scandinavian brothers and produce quality horror. A gory affair, to say the least, the flick wears its influences on its sleeve and even though it might seem a bit cliched at times it’s always great fun.
Wither has the familiar group of seven twenty-somethings that are looking to get away for a weekend of drinking and sex. Albin (Patrik Almkvist) and Ida (Lisa Henni) have been directed to an abandoned house by Albin’s dad so they can get away. The couple see this as a chance to throw one last party with their friends. Upon arrival, they discover the door is locked and as Albin tries to break in, Marcus (Max Wallmo) takes Marie (Jessica Blomkvist) around the house to an open window and tells her to scare everyone when they finally get the door open. However, as Marie eagerly waits inside for everyone, she hears a mysterious noise coming from the floor, discovers trap door and climbs down into a dark cellar.
A bit later, when the rest of the group have successfully entered the house, they find Marie strangely standing in a doorway. As everyone settles and the drinking begins, it’s made pretty evident that something isn’t quite right with Marie as she becomes sicker and sicker before turning on her friends.
There’s been lots of horror films coming out of Scandinavia in the past few years, most of them from Norway (Rare Exports, Dead Snow, Troll Hunter, Cold Prey) and Denmark (let’s just say Lars Von Trier). Sweden’s one recent entry into horror is the dramatic thriller Let the Right One in and while it has horror themes, it’s not really a horror movie per se. While attending the opening nights ceremonies, I discovered that the Swedish Film Institute doesn’t really want to fund ‘genre’ films. They’ll fund seemingly endless generic comedies and dramas, but horror and fantasy are not in their wheelhouse. Hopefully this will change.
Wither is created by a trio of writers/directors, Sonny Laguna, David Liljeblad and Tommy Wiklund. According to their site, Stockholm Syndrome Film, this is their third film together and the trio show great flair for practical effects and gore (It’s hands down one of the most effectively gory films of 2012). The makeup and blood work is really terrific. In fact, it almost plays as an effects reel that they’ll use to get jobs in Hollywood.
Unfortunately, the film is a bit cookie cutter. From the start you realize that the group is nothing but lambs for the slaughter and it suffers from a very brief setup, giving the audience just enough information to allow us to know who to follow before moving into the abattoir… I mean cabin. And it’s pretty obvious the directing trio are inspired by the Alien, Evil Dead and Night of the Living Dead franchises, there are so many visual cues to those films that it almost becomes a game of ‘can you name which movie influenced which scene?’.
Even with these issues, there’s still something to enjoy about Wither. Basically, it’s a fun but frustrating film, especially the third act where the filmmakers feel the need to tie up all the loose ends. Wither isn’t a great by any means but it is, however, one hell of a fun ride and, with a little bit of practice, I believe the guys at Stockholm Syndrome Film will deliver Sweden the top quality horror flick that’s been missing from the country. I hope to see it make more festivals before it’s eventual debut on home video.
Wither is part of the Fantastik Filmfestival taking place in Lund, Sweden. The festival run 20-29 September. Go to fff.se to see the full schedule.