Tag Archives: Sweden

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

 

Antichrist (2009)

Director: Lars von Trier
Starring: Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg . Denmark, Germany, Italy, France, Italy, Poland, Sweden. 1h 48m

This made a very interesting date night, a reconciliation with an ex and a movie filled with sexual violence and gnostic connotations, but in all honesty we both read that there were crazy genital mutilation scenes and being the sick twisted couple we were, we actually wanted to see this together, on top of this any film with Charlotte is usually a bit nutty and even with all this knowledge we were still a bit mystified and shocked at this dark and distinctively effective movie. Continue reading Antichrist (2009)

Midsommar (2019)

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Director: Ari Aster
Starring:Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper, Vilhelm Blomgren, Ellora Torchia, Archie Madekwe, Will Poulter . USA/Sweden. 2h 18m

Ari Aster has a bone to pick with our perceptions of folklore and his method is to scare and intrigue us by old practices which somehow feel familiar to us but also keep us up at night. By his own admission, his own personal demons and fear of germs helped centre him as the central character, something which might have spurred on his need to move away from horror, he loves musicals and rom coms, who’d have thunk it? Despite his love of folky cult themed horrors, he does have a great eye for colour and dramatics, so maybe his distinctive style will happily manifest in other dramatic and loud ways, but I don’t doubt for a second that whatever he dreams up next will be unmistakably Asterish. Continue reading Midsommar (2019)

Gräns/Border (2018)

Director: Ali Abbasi
Starring: Eva Melander, Eero Milonoff .Denmark/Iran/Sweden. 1h 50m

It’s clear from the outset of Ali Abbasi’s latest project, Border, that aspects of his debut Danish horror Shelley (2016) were going to pour through. It chooses to focus on a strange character, whom one might pass everyday and not really notice, and this character and her job at border control only goes to empahses out many conflicts of globalisation.

After sniffing out a teenager over his quota on alcohol he mumbles “Ugly bitch” at Tina (Melander) a border guard at a Swedish ferry port who has an uncanny sense of smell, not only can the stocky lass smell illegal imports but her attuned nose can even sense guilt on an SD card harboring child pornography. After work Tina returns to her home in the woods, which she shares with a lazy and feckless dog trainer Roland (Jorgen Thorsson) their platonic relationship is purely for convenience and it’s evident how little he really cares for Tina but she entertains herself by exploring the natural world around her where she appears to be more comfortable, during these voyeuristic nature scenes, Tina is often happier in her naked form and Ali manages to capture a romance between a woman and the natural eden that surrounds her with a sensitive eye.

Continue reading Gräns/Border (2018)

The Ritual (2017)

Director: David Bruckner
Writers: Joe Barton and Adam Nevill’s The Ritual
Starring: Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali, Robert James-Collier, Sam Troughton. UK. 1h 34m

One of the perks with Netflix is that it gives you the opportunity to watch on the go, which I tried to do with Ritual, but after watching the opening scene I had to stop the film, get home, get comfortable and absorb this film as it instantly grabbed my attention.

It opens with a few guys, not really willing to admit they are getting older but needing to get out on an adventure,  or just the yearly lads holiday, Ibiza!? no they are getting to old, camping, that’s too boring.. so what? The discussion goes into the street and on the way home a couple stop to get some vodka, the night is young and it must be continued while picking up the booze in the offie, they become aware that the place is being robbed, Luke (Spall) hides behind a display while his best friend tries to talk the situation down, it doesn’t work they start attacking him, and he bleeds to death while staring at his cowardly friend… this is the first lesson of this movie but the location changes to the deep dark forests of Sweden and the stakes get higher. Continue reading The Ritual (2017)

Insane (2010)

Director: Anders Jacobsson,  Tomas Sandquist .
Starring. Lars Bethke,  Alida Morberg,  Johanna Leamo.Sweden. 1h 27m.

An unusual B Movie horror with a lot of mixed messages, generally this works as a thriller but shows a lot of imagery akin to the modern day Hostel (2005) styled torture porn but doesn’t deliver a shred of this! Such a tease!

A mild mannered concierge with a big ole soft heart who single handedly runs a wayward hotel that doesn’t see much traffic due to a new road being built, meanders his life away,  the only random faces he sees are those who have old maps and ends up at the hotel by total accident but he accommodates them the best he can.

Continue reading Insane (2010)

Efter Brylluppet / After the Wedding (2006)

Director: Susanne Bier.
Starring. Mads Mikkelsen, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Denmark/India/Sweden. 2h 2m.

There’s a strange sense of duty and a unique stiff upper lip with Scandinavian culture, often associated with bravery and wisdom, sometimes things get a little sharp and precise with the Northern European restraint, and it unfolds with a glorious and bitter results.

The film opens with Jacob (Mikkelsen) a good Samaritan who has cast off all the luxuries of Denmark and is running an orphanage in India which is in dire need of funding. A mysterious man Jorgen (Lasagard) insists on giving the a large sum of money to the cause but only if he gets to meet with face to face, at first he’s hesitant but then soon realises the fate of the children rests on his shoulders. Continue reading Efter Brylluppet / After the Wedding (2006)

Młyn i krzyż – The Mill and the Cross (2011)

the-mill-and-the-cross

Director : Lech Majewski
Starring : Rutger Hauer, Michael York, Charlotte Rampling. Poland/Sweden. 1h 36m

It’s always interesting for a art nut like myself to discover something about an era of art, an artist or in some cases just one single painting being extracted in the wonderful world of cinema. It’s not like someone ever sits down to paint something that’s going to take weeks or months or even years for the sake of painting, yet when you find out the details behind some of the epic masterpieces it can be quite breathtaking and you need to look at the painting again. While I’m hugely into art and it’s history, I’m still in two minds weather these make good movies or not!? Continue reading Młyn i krzyż – The Mill and the Cross (2011)

Erik the Viking (1989)

erik-the-viking

Director: Terry Jones
Starring: Tim Robbins Terry Jones Eartha Kitt Mickey Rooney Tsutomu Sekine John Cleese Antony Sher Imogen Stubbs. UK/Sweden. 1h 47m

This was one of my favourite video’s back in the day, every time I rented this from the video store the card was filled up with my mothers signature, I was so thrilled when I eventually got my own copy and pretty much wore it out, but strangely I lost the urge to watching this Norse comedy repeatedly on DVD but during the holidays I chucked it in and it was quite refreshing to see that it hasn’t lost it’s surreal spark. Continue reading Erik the Viking (1989)