I was impressed with Sweden‘s own art house vampire film “Let The Right One In”, so of course, I was very interested when I heard about “Frostbitten” (or Frostbiten according to the film’s opening credits), Sweden‘s first vampire movie. Directed by Anders Banke, the film is another vampire flick that blends quirky humor, visceral vampirism and genetics as its main premise. The film is a little flimsy if you talk about its plot but the movie is quite fun.
Annika (Petra Nielsen) and her daughter Saga (Grete Hayneskold) had just moved into a snow-laden town somewhere in Sweden. Annika had accepted a position at a local hospital led by an enigmatic Doctor Beckert (Carl-Ake Eriksson). The area is currently experiencing a month-long lack of sunlight and abundance of polar weather. Meanwhile, a young cocky medical assistant named Sebastian (Jonas Carlstrom) steals a batch of red pills from Beckert’s office, either out of curiosity or for a “party favor” for his friend Vega (Emma Aberg) isn’t really clear. After Sebastian takes a red pill, he begins to feel a little sick and very odd; his senses become enhanced, he even begins to hear dogs talk and has gained an intolerance to normal food. Sebastian also finds that he is slowly developing a lust for blood…
Let’s see, “Frostbitten” isn’t going to make my list of favorite vampire films but I have to admit the movie does have its charm. I guess the best way to describe the movie would be a collision of quirky comedy and blood-soaked adrenaline, it bounces around jump scares and comedy while maintaining a feeling of tension. The movie’s plot is full of gaps and characterization is kept at a bare minimum. The “30 Days of Night” angle isn’t really brought into play as much as I would have liked since this element only serves as a very minor ingredient to the film’s plot. The film’s central focus falls upon its teenage characters such as Sebastian, Vega and company who are out to have fun.
Sebastian takes center stage as the first victim of the red pill. His slow transformation to a vampire pretty much sets the film’s tone and I have to admit, the sequences really cracked me up (talking dogs anyone?). It comes off a little grim at times, as we see Sebastian trying to drink his household condiments (ketchup, milk, juice etc.) and finds that his body is rejecting them. The young man’s meeting with his girlfriend’s parents become rather humorous as her father is a minister and you can guess what happens when he hears him saying ‘grace’ and gets fed with a trout cooked in garlic sauce. Yes, the film does have its charm and parts of it were very funny and entertaining.
Sadly, the film has several plot missteps that I thought were just rather disappointing. The plot with our mysterious Dr. Beckert is a little underdeveloped that this subplot never becomes compelling or interesting. I also felt that the sequences with Beckert and Annika didn’t match the tone of the rest of the film. In this area, the film feels rather episodic and lacked coherency in its script. I thought the movie was going to be a solid comedic bloodbath but this area just felt a little too forced. The Nazi angle at the beginning of the film didn’t really reach any inherent gravity to the narrative; it feels rather insignificant. It does provide some background to the vampire named Maria and to Beckert, but the way it just becomes attached into the plot is very difficult to buy into. However, I liked Beckert’s transformation sequence, I thought it was a good homage to old-school effects.
“Frostbitten” has a lot of things going on between the fun-hungry teenagers and the Annika-Beckert struggle and the film does have several editing tricks up its sleeve. It did hold my focus and I felt like I was watching one of your cheesy horror low-budget films (this is a good thing). I guess this was what the director intended. The vampires are curiously very sensitive to light, they can be repelled by a copy machine and even by a car’s powerful headlights. The vampires themselves have the superhuman qualities we see in most vampire movies; strong, fast and feral. The vampires can be killed by the usual traditional means. The film also does have very nice cinematography that accentuates the frozen environment. From the indoors and the outdoors, the film does have the right atmosphere.
This Swedish vampire thriller relies on its visuals and brings the core of its story from genetic studies. I thought the transformation from human to vampire through the use of a pill is a little hard to buy into. The film is also very predictable and rather unoriginal; it also lacks innovation and feels very routine with its barefaced scares. To its credit, the film does have its charm and leanness; the film has enough vampire stunts, humor and bloody scenes to charm the horror fan. The film is amiable enough and accompanied by good visuals, “Frostbitten” can be fun when you’re in the mood for a vampire movie with flamboyance and comedic allure.
Recommended timidly, rent it first! [3 Stars]
Special Thanks to my buddy Trashcanman for giving me the heads up on this!!
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Annika, a medical doctor and her 17-year old daughter Saga have just moved to a small cold town far up north, as Annika is going to work at the hospital there. At her new school Saga meets a bizarre goth-girl named Vega who knows more about this sleepy town that she lets on. Fear strikes, and daylight is a lifetime away.