Tag Archives: heathen

Draug (2018)

Directors: Karin Engman, Klas Persson 
Starring: Elna Karlsson, Thomas Hedengran, Ralf Beck, Nine Filimoshkina, Urban Bergsten. Sweden. 1h 27m

There’s been a modern trend of directors getting back to their ruddy roots and finding terror in the wood which is the driving force in this potent doom folk horror, as local hero’s search for a missing man of the cloth. Draug keeps a sharp edge through it’s dynamic set up of a foul mouthed beer swigging clan leader Kettil (Hedengran), his highly sensitive and possibly psychic adopted daughter Nanna (Karlsson), his main squeeze and apparently his bravest men.

It feels very “authentic” drab colours, crazy locals and lots of beer; it’s the stereotypical perception of any European pagan infused settlement, while not being historically accurate ,if gives you what you’d expect, and more, there are few whoopie moments, modern clothing being the main culprit, it will be interesting to see how many other goods a professional could pick out!?

After setting out, the rescue team start at the last place where the missionary was seen, a quite neighboring village but all they find there is beer and stories about the creepy woods, the only event is Nanna getting creped out by a demented old woman, signs start to appear that adopted daughter is quite different from the other morals around her and the movie hinges on her discovering her origins and powers.

Draug sits well between scandanivan journey epics like Wolfhound (2006) with touches of the dark mysticism of Sauna (2008), yet it really doesn’t know if it wants to be an action flick or something more supernatural. Without having the massive budget or drive, at times Draug flounders, yet manages to keep a somewhat brooding sense of danger until the final act, when all hell is supposed to break loose but this is where the lack of budget trips the production up and it ends up being an extended episode of Nightmare(1987-1994), the mood changes to some kind of ethereal neon lit world and a new entity finally makes itself known within layers of lightning struck scenery side steps all the good build up that the movie achieved until then.

Oft in the woods, is a listener nigh – Grettir’s Saga

There could be more character development apart from the ale quaffing kind and his daughter everyone else is just mud soaked Viking some braver than others but there’s no real emphasis on who these characters are. There’s a lot of technical and acting fails, see if you can catch modern clothes, people looking for the camera and lots of focal adjustments.

“Where’s the bloody beer”

Kettil

It’s great to see the forest being used a home for monsters yet again, it’s certainly nothing new in folk horror sub genre, it happens time and time again but the strength of Draug is firstly with its approach of there being some peace between the religious and pagan people, and then in it’s bitter ending. Engman and Persson make a bold leap into the European fairytale narrative where there are no happy endings. There’s a lot to admire with the approach to feminine strength Nanna has to make some difficult choices, finding her a dark secret within her bloodline is something the film is set up to do from the beginning but the implications are so very damning. Draug is surely one that needs to be seen to encompass modern folk horror but it’s a movie which feels challenged by its own storytelling, it wants to be a dark nightmare but it’s a slightly confusing one at best.

Rating: 4/10

 

Related: The Witch (2015), Hagasuzza (2017), Sauna (2008), The Ritual (2017), Wolfhound (2006)
Lists: Folk Horror, A Witch in the Woods
Trailer

 

The Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971)

Director: Piers Haggard.
Starring. Linda Hayde, Patrick Wymark, Michelle Dotrice, Wendy Padbury, Anthony Ainley, Barry Andrews, UK. 1h 40m.

There’s always something dark and demonic smouldering in the movies situated deep in the English Countryside, and it’s never so in your face as in Piers Hagards, trippy macabre masterpiece that has a lot of connection with Michael Reeves’s Witchfinder General, the Wicker Man (1973) and in some ways I feel there’s an artistic nature similar to a Ken Russell the Devils (1971) albeit it in a much tamer manner.

A ploughboy stumbles on some strange remains in a field, the bones and ever staring eyeball causes the boy to start running in terror, he soon realises that his unhappy accident has unearthed the remains of an ancient demonic presence which is now free to possess his village. The first signs of danger happen in a prestigious house, where a wealthy family a host to a young girl, one that has taken the fancy of their eligible son, but due to his mother’s tough nature she’s forced into the attic, late into the night her screams wake the family, once she’s rescued her personality has completely changes, now deranged and bearing deadly sharp claws she’s taken away by the authorities and clergy. Continue reading The Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971)

Gehenna: Where Death Lives (2016)

Director: Hiroshi Katagiri
Starring: Eva Swan, Sean Sprawling, Katherine Taylor, Simon Philips, Doug Jones, Lance Henriksen. USA/ Japan. 1h 45m

Katagiri’s feature length debut opens up with an embellished biblical quote from Matthew 18:9, but instead of casting your eye into hell fire, the word is changed for Gehenna, this cuts away for a group of natives performing a ritual involved cutting off a mans face and walling him up in a cave.
After the bloodshed, the film cuts to a pristine office, where Morgan (Henriksen) speaks with his daughter about checking out a new spot in Saipan, the family business is tied with tourism and they have acquired a new piece of land which Paulina (Swan) is determined to check out as she’s planning on taking over the family business soon, this is all you’ll see of Henriksen so don’t get your hopes up Henny fans.

Continue reading Gehenna: Where Death Lives (2016)