Norwegian Werewolf Horror Viking Wolf (2022) Has Sharp Enough Claws and Thrills
Title: Viking Wolf
First Non-Festival Release: November 18, 2022 (Theatrical Release)
Director: Stig Svendsen
Writer: Espen Aukan, Stig Svendsen
Runtime: 97 Minutes
Starring: Liv Mjönes, Elli Rhiannon Müller Osborne, Arthur Hakalahti
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
After attending a party thrown by local teenagers, Thale (Elli Rhiannon Müller Osborne) recovers from a vicious animal attack that claimed the life of another teenager. The days that follow are quite confusing and painful for Thale as she notices strange changes in her daily life. Her mother’s (Liv Mjönes) job as a decorated police officer takes her on a journey of discovering what attacked the children and killing it. She soon discovers that the darkness they are facing is much greater than what they are prepared to confront.
By-the-books werewolf horror Viking Wolf makes fair case for injecting Norwegian lore into the well-tread subgenre.
Connecting Norse werewolf mythology with modern day werewolf tropes, Viking Wolf sets the stage to occupy a unique niche in the subgenre. Tales of werewolves have weaved their way into pop culture for centuries. Viking Wolf creates a more horrific twist on the body horror for its victim, Thale. Treating lycanthropy more as an incurable disease rather than a superpower or a counterculture, Viking Wolf adds a layer of hopelessness to the subgenre that is often missed. There is no great adventure, no epic battles, and no budding romance. All there is a painful transformation and an animalistic loss of control, which feels more painful given the family dynamic of the main family.
The relationship between Liv and Thale is given so much weight despite the two rarely getting a chance to interact throughout the feature. From the beginning, Liv and Thale’s relationship is noticeably strained. Thale resents her mother for forcing her to move so far away from her friends and does not let her forget it. After the initial attack where she witnesses another girl get mauled to death, the two share some rough and tender moments but their relationship is largely absent from the film. In fact, they likely connect more after Thale enters wolf form than when they were both human. It’s likely that there just wasn’t enough time to fit in something more compelling, but the lack of spotlight really does hurt the film when it comes into its final act.
Impressive production values, particularly its special effects work, makes Viking Wolf feel fresh, exciting, and grounded. Between its stunning cinematography highlighting the Norwegian landscape and strong special effects work to construct its werewolf baddie, Viking Wolf is an impressive feat of indie horror fare. Where many werewolves get butchered in post-production, Viking Wolf leans into a more realistic version of lycanthropy by making its beast a larger and more imposing wolf rather than playing with the more human elements. It works splendidly. The wolf is agile, threatening, and scary. While fans of practical effects may be disheartened, at the end of the day the wolf effects are about as on par for computer generated creature effects from most Hollywood efforts as one can ask for.
Strong directorial choices maximize the scares and action of this werewolf thrill ride without betraying the plot. There are only so many ways to keep the mystery alive in a small town facing off against a werewolf. Director Stig Svendsen milks out the tension in each location to maximize the amount of damage a creature this size could dole out while keeping the action contained. Forest search parties, overturned busses, vacant storefronts all make for excellent conduits for werewolf carnage. While the beast itself is large, Svendsen finds ways to keep it agile and dangerous even in the most confined spaces.
There isn’t much done in Viking Wolf that you haven’t already seen. It is a mostly by-the-books werewolf mystery that doesn’t take too long to get to the good stuff. Impressive production values and engaging action sequences keep this overcast Norwegian monster movie captivating and enjoyable. Netflix shows that they still have a capable eye of acquiring and showcasing promising foreign horror films with their decision on Viking Wolf. If movies about mythological beasties meet your fancy, Viking Wolf is absolutely worth the chance.
Overall Score? 6/10