Following Thale and Marianne, Wither is the next Scandinavian horror film based on Nordic mythology. The independent production premieres next week in Sweden.
The wither, or vittra in Swedish, is a type of nature spirit and mythological creature common in Nordic mythology. Elves, dwarves and jotnar are withers, and they all live underground, are invisible most of the time and rarely meddle in human affairs. However, when enraged by people not respecting them properly, they are fearsome. Wither is not simply a creature feature though, but more a zombie movie in which the horror is triggered by the underground withers. The two million kroner (around 200.000 euros) film has been described as “an exquisite raw mash-up of classic bloodfests like Evil Dead and old crazy Swedish forest mythology”.
The plot of the film, as told by the producers: “A group of close friends have decided to spend the weekend in a remote and seemingly abandoned house deep inside the forest. Upon arriving, the party soon gets started, but one of the girls is not feeling well. It doesn’t take long before she is transformed to a different kind of being, a scandinavian folklore creature only heard of in myths. Chaos soon breaks out and the group find themselves fighting for their lives. The night goes on, but the horror has just started. They have with their presence in the house, unleashed unnatural powers that will force them to do whatever is necessary to stay alive.”
Johannes Brost (65) is the film’s major star, and a familiar face in Swedish films, theatre and television since the 80s. He promises that “there will be lots of blood” and adds; “It is not every day one does something like this”, referring to his hunter character Gunnar who gets to both shoot and decapitate people. Brost did not think twice about joining the movie; “This is a real effort. The guys behind the film mean serious business. When they phoned me after my holiday andasked me, I thought, let’s go!”. His character carries a dark secret from the past, something that the group of young guests will find out about too soon. In one of the scenes he saws off a head, not because he wants to but because he is forced to do it.
Co-director Sonny Laguna describes the film like this to Bloody Disgusting: “Everyone can expect a lot of action, horror and high tension throughout the film. Wither is similar to a zombie movie but more so in the veins of Evil Dead. We searched our own folklore culture and found out about a human like being that lives underneath the ground, invisible to us humans. But we should never disturb them or things will go bad… Which of course happens during the movie. So we get to see multiple villains, more hard core stuff.”
However, making a horror movie in Sweden is not always easy, due to lack of support from both public funding bodies as well as the audiences. Director Sonny Laguna explains to Nordic Fantasy why home-grown horror is frowned upon: “The Swedish attutude towards domestic horror films is very sad, but to a certain extent understandable. Why it is like this is, I think, because we are just a few people in a rich country, and we are spoiled by Hollywood productions when it comes to horror. It’s very hard to compete with that. But I believe that the real horor film fans will appreciate Wither as an entertaining and quality horror horror film.”
Wither will be released publicly in 2013, both in Sweden and internationally. It is also headed for film festivals in the UK and Spain, but the 95 minute film is first shown on September 26 at the Fantastic Film Festival in Lund (where it will compete in the Melies competition against seven other films).
Wither stars Amanda Renberg, Johannes Brost, Lisa Henni (Snabba Cash, 2010), Patrick Saxe (Blood Runs Cold, 2011), Max Wallmo (Madness, 2010), Anders Hellquist (Ninja Mission, 2000) and Ralf Beck (Tomb Raider 2, 2003). Produced by David Liljeblad and Tommy Wiklund at Stockholm Syndrome Film and directed by Sonny Laguna and Wiklund from a script by David Liljeblad, Laguna and Wiklund.
Wither (original title: Vittra) should not be confused with Wither, the first book in Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden novel trilogy, which has been optioned for cinematic adaption by Prospect Park and Violet House Productions.