Welcome to Knockout Horror and to another Horror Movie Review. Today we are taking a look at Norwegian Werewolf movie Viking Wolf. I actually watched this movie a few weeks ago. For some reason, reviewing it completely slipped my mind. That might speak to some of the issues with this movie. Viking Wolf is a painfully average, forgettable, monster horror.
I am a really big fan of Scandinavian horror. Norway and Sweden have put out some of my favourite movies over the years. They have a real knack for creating dark, gritty, horror that gets in your head. Movies like Let The Right One In and The Innocents stand out for their unique approach to horror. Combining realistic settings with traditional horror themes. You are always in for something interesting. I was hoping for more of the same with Viking Wolf. Unfortunately, what I got was a very boring horror movie with little to recommend. Let’s take a look.
Viking Wolf follows the story of young student Thale. After recently moving to a new town with her parents. Thale attends a party with a group of kids from her school. While there, she witnesses a girl being viciously attacked by something. While attempting to rescue the girl. Thale receives a small wound. As the residents of the small town attempt to solve the mystery of who attacked the girl. Thale begins to experience bizarre events. Events that may hint at the truth behind what happened to her.
So Viking Wolf walks a fairly familiar and well trodden path. That of the young girl transforming into something unfamiliar. Somewhat reminiscent of movies like the well loved Ginger Snaps. Or even the decent Scandinavian werewolf horror When Animals Dream. Viking Wolf aims to put its own spin on the werewolf, coming of age, style drama horror film. It’s at this point that the problems really begin. Viking Wolf has absolutely nothing to add to this well worn genre. It brings nothing new to the table. Steals from plenty of plates and doesn’t manage to stand out at all.
Whereas movies like Ginger Snaps and When Animals Dream had something to say. A different way of looking at the ancient, tried and tested, formula of werewolf movies. Viking Wolf really doesn’t aim to be anything other than a simple horror. What’s worse is that it takes the potentially interesting elements of werewolf movies. The transformations and the anthropomorphised wolf human hybrid designs. And replaces them with a simple badly animated CGI wolf. There are no cool monster creations. Limited tense and toe curling transformations. And little reason to care. There is simply a girl that is slightly hairy one moment. Before magically becoming a bog standard normal wolf the next. It is woefully disappointing.
Acting, for much of its length, as a slow moving and rather boring coming of age drama. It takes a long time for Viking Wolf to really get going. Naturally, we have the mystery of who, or what, attacked the school girl to keep things moving. But that doesn’t really lead to any significant moments of tension or scares. It’s your basic police investigation drama with added furriness. Nothing overly interesting and, most definitely, not atmospheric or engaging. The rest of the time we are watching a school girl struggle to adapt to her new school. It’s rather dull and very slow moving.
None of this would matter if the werewolf thrills here were of a high standard. Unfortunately, that just isn’t the case. Borrowing liberally from every other major werewolf movie ever. Viking Wolf does absolutely nothing new. Aside from the fact that the werewolf element really doesn’t open up for a long time. While building to it. Viking Wolf never manages to impact the viewer, one way or the other. Scares are set up in utterly predictable ways. Characters rarely feel at any particular risk. The stakes are fairly low and there is little reason to invest.
The lacking character development makes it difficult to care about anyone. On top of that. Time spent following the investigation feels tired, tacked on, and a bit hollow. Reminiscent of a low rent, made for TV, crime investigation show. Scenes roaming the woods looking for clues in broad daylight. Desperately want for suspense. Instead of being tense and nerve wracking. They are boring and lacking in intrigue. This has all, simply, been done before.
When the movie finally threatens to actually get going. We are thrust back into more drama. The laborious story of Thale’s everyday life drags its feet throughout. Subjecting the viewer to half baked romance subplots. The likes of which would feel more apt in a teen movie. Only to briefly return to mundane police investigations. It all feels rather contrasting and disruptive to the overall flow. The stories don’t mesh together particularly well. This isn’t helped by the sheer fact that each side story is equally as dull as the last. This is a movie that has managed to take a fairly interesting premise. And remove the very thing that makes it interesting. Choosing, instead, to focus on the tiresome and ordinary.
Perhaps Viking Wolf’s biggest downfall comes in the presentation of its monster. As mentioned above. Viking Wolf abandons the one thing that might have elevated it above boring drama horror. Instead choosing to opt for PlayStation 3 levels of CG. Whereas other movies take tremendous pride in presenting their version of a werewolf. Painstakingly crafting a creature to haunt your dreams. Be it through makeup and prosthetics or creative CGI. Viking Wolf takes the easy way out.
The intense and painful looking transformation here is cut dramatically short. Only briefly touching on some interesting makeup and prosthetics. Almost completely skipping the hybridisation of human and wolf. Instead going with a crap looking, normal, CGI wolf. Who thought this would be a good idea? Why take the one thing that people look forward to in werewolf movies. Wipe your ass with it and flush it down the toilet? I will never understand this decision. Was it budgetary constraints or lack of imagination?
The CGI here is pretty bad as well. I couldn’t shake the feeling that the film-makers saw the crap CGI in Troll Hunter. Looked towards each other and said. “See, the CGI doesn’t have to look good if the film is interesting!”. The problem is, Viking Wolf isn’t anywhere close to as compelling as Troll Hunter. What you are left with is a slow moving movie. With a monster that looks pretty damn bad. If this was a Sharknado style film. That wouldn’t be a problem. But it isn’t. It is a horror film that takes itself as seriously as your doctor telling you that you might want to sit down. Big mistake and yet another reason to not recommend Viking Wolf.
There are a couple of positive points. Acting is generally great throughout. Despite being given a very typical role of a moody, somewhat aloof, teenage girl. Elli Rhiannon Müller Osborne does a nice job making the character relatable. I am including her middle names here purely because one of them is Welsh. Yes I am Welsh and yes Welsh stuff makes me happy. She is really good and obviously buys into the role. I enjoyed the dynamic between Thale and her sister, played by Mia Fosshaug Laubacher, as well. It made for some interesting and touching interactions.
Liv Mjönes, as Thale’s mother Liv, is really decent too. It’s cool to see a woman leading the investigations and presented so strongly. I could see this type of role being flipped in a US horror and given to a man. Mjönes does a good job. She helps keep you invested in the tiny amount of meat on the bones of the story here. Everyone else is fine. All the actors seem invested in their roles and play it very seriously. Despite the slightly silly subject matter and rather farcical plot.
There are a few decent moments of dry humour. Something that the Norwegians seem to do very well. If you can get past the overly familiar and well worn story elements. There is a fairly interesting drama here that some may find enjoyable. The cinematography is fine. Some of the lighting is quite nice, particularly toward the end of the film. The gorgeous Norwegian scenery looks fantastic. Unfortunately, the camera never really makes the most of it. A slight question mark left at the end of the movie. Potentially opens the door for a sequel. I just hope the director and writer choose to do something more creative. Take some risks. Viking Wolf is about as plain of a werewolf movie as you can get.
Viking Wolf is a very middle of the road and rather dull werewolf horror. Pushing aside interesting creature designs and toe curling transformations. Instead choosing to portray itself. As more of a familial drama with crime investigation elements. This is a movie that does very little with a very old and very tired formula. Keen to present itself as something of a Ginger Snaps for the 2020s. Viking Wolf instead feels slow, boring, and rather difficult to engage in.
Teen drama and romance subplots feel tiresome and out of place. Investigations into the mystery killer lack in suspense and tension. It's all been done before. The reveal of some lacklustre CGI is the silver bullet that puts this dog down for good. Leaving a bitter taste in your mouth. Viking Wolf could have been much better. It just chooses to settle for average. Not the worst movie if you desire something slow. If you are looking for werewolf scares, however, you better wait for the next full moon.