Film: Viking Wolf (AKA Vikingulven)
Director: Stig Svendsen
Why You Should Watch It: Werewolves and Viking Lore. Need I say more?
Admission time: Werewolf movies are my favorite. While vampire movies are a close second, there’s something about the whole body horror and transformation element of werewolves that really feels close to my heart. There’s something about the sensation of uncontrollably ripping out of your own skin and becoming a monster that really resonates with me. Plus, werewolves are just cool.
Another admission: I love foreign films. I know that it’s not easy for everyone to enjoy reading subtitles and follow what’s happening on screen at the same time, but that sort of thing doesn’t bother me. I love hearing different languages and seeing the way filmmakers from other countries engage in cinematic storytelling. So if you don’t enjoy reading and watching a film at the same time, this one might not be for you. As for me? I loved it.
Viking Wolf, or Vikingulven as it’s called in its native Norwegian, takes classic Nordic tales and marries them with werewolf lore like I’ve never seen before. This story opens with a 12th century Viking raid gone wrong. The raiders kinda get what they deserve when they unknowingly bring back a werewolf and unleash it like a plague upon their land. I would have loved to have spent a little more time in the past to see how the Vikings battled the werewolf. Historical horror is far and few between, but I’ll take what I can get!
Fast-forward 800 years and we are introduced to Thale, a troubled teenage girl living with her fractured family in Nybo, a rural town in Norway. Thale’s mother is a workaholic police officer who recently remarried, a fact that Thale isn’t too happy about. Thale has a strong bond with her deaf little sister, Jenny, but is having trouble making friends in her new town. To try and fit in, Thale sneaks out and goes to a party in the woods and well, you can probably guess what happens from here. When a girl named Elin from the party gets attacked, Thale tries to help and gets a l’il scratched up in the process. She knows she saw something inhumane drag Elin off into the woods, but Thale is too afraid to tell her police officer mother the truth.
Without giving away too much, Viking Wolf has strong similarities to An American Werewolf in London via scenes where Thale is haunted by a classmate. I also got major Trollhunter vibes from the grizzled one-armed werewolf hunter who lives in his camper and tries to warn the police about the danger lurking in the woods. There weren’t too many twists and turns along the way in this film, but there were plenty of spooky elements (like one night when Thale was sleepwalking, eeek!). Plus the eventual werewolf transformation was pretty rad.
One thing that is interesting about this movie is that the main character, Thale, has bi-colored eyes (one blue eye, one yellow brown eye). This comes into play as part of the narrative but is never discussed, even when Thale is bullied by her classmates. Perhaps this was something lost in translation, but I felt like the main character having this very rare eye color variant maybe should have been fleshed out a little more. I did love the representation with deaf little Jenny and how she and her sister communicated and shared a special bond.
I was also a little disappointed that the historical elements of the movie were featured only at the beginning, but that didn’t ruin my overall enjoyment of the film. The ending is left somewhat open to interpretation, which I appreciated, unlike An American Werewolf in London which was a funny film with an unavoidably bleak ending.
Viking Wolf is available to stream on Netflix. If you’ve been looking for a new werewolf film with just enough bite, be sure to check it out!