The Vikings had an unhealthy preoccupation with werewolves several centuries ago. As in, for realsies. Myths and legends about wolves (or Ulven, as the ancient raiders called them) fascinated them. The legend is pervasive in Viking literature; valves were both feared and admired as emblems of power.
This fascination with the Norse is the subject of the Norwegian horror film Viking Wolf (Vikingulven), directed by Kings Bay’s Stig Svendsen and produced by Trollhunter John M. Jacobsen. The film follows a group of friends as they experience a series of terrifying events in a sleepy Scandinavian town.
In the film, we join Thale and her family as they settle into their new home in Nybo, Norway. Thale is at a party to meet new people when she is attacked and her new classmate is brutally killed by an unknown beast. A human being? Animal? Something that combines human and animal DNA and has been lurking about for what seems like a millennium? And what gives Thale such an odd sensation now is a mystery.
What Exactly Occurs In Viking Wolf?
In the basement of an abbey in Normandy, a dog was supposedly discovered by a band of Vikings on their way to loot the region. Except that it wasn’t a canine at all. That dog came straight from the pits of hell, and it slaughtered the entire village.
Now, in the present: Thale, a new resident of the town at the age of 17, watches in horror as a fellow student is attacked by an unknown beast. Honestly, she has no idea. As she recovers from the trauma and battles some strange side effects, the community must find a way to halt the vicious beast before it destroys everything in its path.
Viking Wolf: A Review
Thanks to Netflix, I’ve been exposed to a plethora of Norwegian stories, and I’ve come to the conclusion that Norway is one of the best countries for fantasy fiction. The Netflix original film Viking Wolf puts a fresh perspective on the werewolf genre by incorporating elements of Viking exploration, history, and mythology alongside the familiar elements that audiences have come to expect.
A movie that Stig Svendsen directed that he and Espen Aukan wrote. Fans of mythology, fantasy, horror, and, of course, werewolves, will like Viking Wolf.
Thale (Elli Rhiannon Müller Osborne), a teen in Viking Wolf, has recently relocated from Oslo with her parents to a rural community. Thale is an outsider who moved to town because her mother, Liv (Liv Mjönes), got a position with the local police force.
However, Thale’s new existence is derailed by violence after she leaves their safe zone and attends a party. Unfortunately, a student is brutally murdered, leaving Thale as the only witness to the crime. The attack shows all the hallmarks of a wolf attack, but it is more vicious and clearly bigger, and this sets off the hunt for the beast, with Thale and her family as the focus. There is a monster terrorizing the community as Thale struggles to recover from the trauma she has suffered.
Title card exposition isn’t my favorite, but it serves its purpose in Viking Wolf, which is to introduce the plot to non-Norwegian audiences without detracting from the narrative itself. This allows for the lore to grow organically over the film’s running length, rather than having to constantly rehash the film’s premise that Vikings and werewolves go together.
With a nod to Viking history and mythology, Viking Wolf delves into the origins of werewolves and the threat they pose to a peaceful village without ever feeling like a history lesson. Instead, the audience is expected to learn alongside the characters by picking up hints as they are presented.
When it comes to scary moments, Viking Wolf delivers. However, the pacing of the kills is a little off because of the cutaways. The movie may be slow, but it makes up for it with emotional choices as Thale and her mom work through the dilemma and make tough selections.
Protecting your loved ones may seem like a lower priority than watching out for the town and the individuals you swore to defend. Although the killings are indeed terrifying, the film’s central themes revolve around the tensions that can arise from a mother’s love and the question of whether or not one’s responsibilities should take precedence over the other.
That’s because the mother-daughter combo of Liv Mjönes and Elli Rhiannon Müller Osborne, who play Liv and Thale, respectively, give such powerful and moving performances.
However, the special effects of Viking Wolf are truly remarkable. Even though the werewolf in the film is really just a big wolf, the character design of his fur and face give him a personality. Many of the wolf’s interactions with humans evoke genuine emotion in the spectator, rather than making the animal come off as an awkward intrusion. We witness the wolf’s vulnerability and her ferocity as she interacts with the humans around her. The visual effects are stunning and ominous; they deserve praise.
Unlike traditional werewolf tales, Viking Wolf has no neat ending. For the girl cornered by the wolf, there is no hero, no rescue, and no compassion. With no resolution, the story is hopeless and frustrating, but in a way that is satisfying to the reader.
Even though the film’s violence isn’t exactly well-paced, it’s worth seeing out because of how it deals with its characters’ inner turmoil. If you’re hoping for some big, brazen werewolf attacks, this film isn’t for you. But you’ll find a softer target instead.
Watch Viking Wolf now on Netflix.