I grew up loving horror, actually desiring the films which were able to get under my skin. When I was too young for the bloodier films, I filled up on classic horror movies: creature films from Cold War paranoia, Depression-era Universal monster movies, all the way up to the beginning of the slasher films with Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom and Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. The truly daring movies all have numerous copycats, though rarely are they as engaging as the originals. Wither does well not to attempt to reinvent the wheel, but as a Swedish take on the ‘cabin-in-the-woods’ narrative it is able to offer an original style to that old familiar bloodbath.
Made before the 2013 remake of Evil Dead, Wither could easily be an unofficial remake in many regards, though is a different reason for the demonic attacks on a group of viral young adults on a getaway in the woods, based on Swedish mythology involving a creature which lives underground. The storyline and its practical effects seem most inspired by Sam Raimi’s cult classic and its sequels, as well as the Dario Argento produced Italian films, Demons and Demons 2. A group of friends find themselves fighting each other off once some sort of possession/contagion is spread after a creature in the cellar is disturbed.
With plot simplified and narrative somewhat predictable, much of the film comes down to characters and the film’s bloodier sequences. The effects are flawlessly done, never so flashy that they detract from the point of the sequence while always elevated to an extreme level. By the end of the film, the cabin walls are covered in blood from various battles between friends who have become possessed and those still trying to survive. There are many predictable characters in this film, though filmmakers Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund throw a few unexpected twists in these caricatures, especially those you think may survive. The effect is not unlike the stoner’s escape from death in Joss Whedon produced hit, Cabin in the Woods.
Though there aren’t more than a handful of Swedish horror films, those which do exist are compelling enough to anticipate more. Tomas Alfredson’s Let the Right One In was solid enough for
to snatch it up as a remake almost immediately. Though I don’t imagine Wither
needs an American remake, I am certain we will be seeing more from Laguna and
Wiklund in the future. Hollywood
The DVD release by Artsploitation Films comes with their standard booklet insert, which has an intro paragraph from the filmmakers, an essay by Ryan Clark and an interview with the filmmakers about the film’s combination of practical effects and CGI. The disc bonus features include a behind-the-scenes featurette, deleted scenes and a trailer gallery for Artsploitation Films.
Entertainment Value: 8/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7.5/10
Historical Significance: 6/10Disc Features: 7