HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: WITHER (2012)

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 WITHER (2012)

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Apparently Sweden remade Evil Dead a whole year before Fede Alvarez with this 2012 horror…and that’s not always a bad thing. Swedish language flick has seven friends heading into the woods for a vacation at a house that has been abandoned for years…good idea! When they get there, shy Marie (Jessica Blomkvist) encounters something in the basement and soon turns violent. Her eyes gone white, she savages one of the others brutally and has to be restrained. Soon the vacation turns into a living hell as one by one the vacationers start turning into something otherworldly after being attacked by their possessed companions. Will anyone survive?

Directed by Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund, who co-wrote with David Liljeblad, this is an obvious replay of Evil Dead, through actually not that bad when given a chance. The plot is pretty much the same and there are scenes lifted directly from that classic, like hero Albin (Patrik Almkvist) having difficulty offing his possessed girlfriend and a burial of a character thought dead, in the woods. There is also the cowardly, blue shirted hero who gradually turns fighter, the shy girl who is taken first, the tool shed and the very creepy cellar. But Wither does also do things on it’s own. It’s evil is in the form of a creature from Swedish folklore. This we are told by a hunter character (Johannes Brost), whose family encountered the creature in the house days earlier. This fairy creature steals souls from anyone that invades it’s territory and possesses their bodies. Though oddly the infection/possession spreads by bite and scratch like a traditional zombie, once Marie starts attacking the others. Unlike zombies, though, these “possessed” speak, use weapons and have a rudimentary intelligence. The attack scenes are quite vicious and the gore is really well done and quite abundant and graphic. The directing duo also get the camera angles and lighting right to add atmosphere, so at least they were paying attention to their influences…though unlike Raimi’s original, the pacing is rather moderate for an 80 minute film. The acting is also fairly decent, though some are better than others, with Brost and leading lady Lisa Henni seeming to be the only ones with professional acting backgrounds in the cast.

So, in ways this is a blatant retread of the classic Evil Dead. The basic cabin in the woods plot is the same, as is the basic character line-up with a hunter and his family serving as previous victims and exposition, where Sam Raimi’s epic had it’s ominous tape left by a scientist and his wife. There are some differences, such as a more folklore based origin for it’s evil and the film actually accomplishes some very vicious attack scenes and it’s own brand of excessive gore. Filmmakers Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund do present their familiar story well and while we can’t decide if it’s a deliberate homage or outright “borrowing” from Raimi’s flick, it is still a fairly effective and delightfully gory horror…borderline carbon copy though it may be. Also stars Patrick Saxe, Anna Henriksson, Amanda Renberg and Max Wallmo as the rest of the ill-fated vacationers.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 chainsaws…though none appear in the film.

3 chainsaws
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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: BLOOD RUNS COLD (2011)

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BLOOD RUNS COLD (2011)

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When recording artist Winona (cute Hanna Oldenburg) needs a getaway, her manager books her a large secluded house near her hometown. Hanna hooks up with her ex-boyfriend and some of his pals at a bar and they return to the house to party. But in the hidden crawlspaces and rooms in the home lurks a killer, who soon starts to thin the group’s numbers and quite gruesomely.

Swedish horror is an odd slasher as directed by Sonny Laguna and co-written by he, David Liljeblad and Tommy Wiklund. There is literally no backstory on the creepy killer, not even the traditional local legend and he even seems to be some sort of zombie as he bleeds dust and eats his victims. The film has some very good and abundant gore as a result, but we are still left a bit cold as we never know who or what exactly Winona is dealing with. The film also is light on suspense and only whips up some tension when Winona is left for final girl duty and battles her attacker within the hidden walls, rooms and tunnels of the house. There are definitely some questions raised here by some very obvious plot holes. Why has no one heard of this killer, or resulting disappearances, as he seems to have been in this house for some time? As the killer seems to remain in and around the house, why doesn’t Hanna simply run for it when given the chance, she didn’t seem that far from town. Does Hanna not know blood when she sees it in large puddles? And where the hell did that fully loaded machine gun come from? The film may also get the award for most gratuitous nose drool in film history. Suffice to say, this is not the most solidly scripted slasher and a bit too much is left to our imaginations. It does deliver some really well-done gore, there is some nice nudity from Hanna Oldenburg and Elin Hugoson and Oldenburg does show some spunk as our heroine and is not the virginal type usually given final girl duty. The rest of the cast are generic and unremarkable with the killer himself looking creepy and is effective, despite no backstory or exposition. The snowy scenery also worked in the film’s favor and the house setting was fairly spooky. The film is also less than 80 minutes, so is economically short, which works in it’s favor.

This flick certainly was a mixed bag. There was plenty of gore, a creepy killer and a cute and feisty final girl in Hanna Oldenburg. On the other hand, the rest of the cast was bland, the script underdeveloped and some crucial plot points were left unaddressed. Director Laguna delivered very little tension or suspense and the atmosphere the film had was provided by the snowy Swedish locations and the spooky old house it was filmed it. Passed the time inoffensively, but nothing remarkable or memorable about it. Nice effort on certain levels considering a reported budget of only about $5,000.

-MonsterZero NJ

A generous 2 and 1/2 pick axes, mostly for the gore, locations and cute heroine.

blood runs cold rating

 

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