“The scariest Norwegian movie ever” is getting its first sequel in October. Dark Woods 2 is a continuation, but with a new cast and a bigger, creepy location.
In 2008, Norway’s second most popular newspaper Dagbladet’s readers chose 2003’s Dark Woods (original title; Villmark) as the scariest Norwegian movie ever (not that many had been made until then). While the film itself was not alone in being responsible for kickstarting the first and only Norwegian horror film wave, which is a wave we’re still riding on, it was the first proper Norwegian mainstream horror film, and therefore a pioneering work by director Pål Øie, something 155.000 ticket buyers seemed to appreciate. The film, which was Øie’s feature debut, was about a group of people shooting a reality TV show in the woods, but there is no prize if you guess that several of them were killed.
Norway does not have a great tradition for sequels, so nobody raised an eyebrow when Dark Woods did not get an immediate follow-up. -12 years, that’s how much time it took. It took several years to develop the movie, and other things got in the way. Early on we toyed with the idea of making a sequel, and wanted to be the first in Norway to do that, but others beat us to it, Pål Øie said to VG.
Now Øie is gearing up to launch Dark Woods 2. An old sanatorium is deteriorating in an isolated forest in the mountains. The elderly janitor is still living there to ensure that no one access the dangerous building. Five contract workers have taken on the task of tracking the huge building for hazardous waste before it’s demolished. Over 300 rooms and kilometres of pipelines have to be screened in three days. They realize that the job is more than a search for asbestos and mercury when they encounter the building’s frightening past. Water is gushing from the old pipes, and brings the work to a halt. An attempt to close the water intake leads them to the dark cellar, where they discover the horrible secrets from the sanatorium’s past.
Dark Woods 2 has been partially shot at an actual sanatorium in Lyster in Western Norway. It opened in 1902 as a TBC facility, and was a place for medical treatment until the 1950s. In its heydays, the sanatorium was its own little town, with living quarters for the staff, a cinema, post office, stables, a pig farm with extra fat pigs, and a library with 17.000 books. When an efficient TBC cure came after World War 2, the facility was used a clinic for mental disorders for 40 years, until it closed completely in the mid 90s. The building has since been empty, although various plans for its use is still being debated. Now, a horror film has been made there, with a story inspired by the fact that the building once was scheduled to be torn down. Before any large buildings are demolished, clean-up crews always remove hazardous materials that must not be left in nature. -The wilderness has entered the building [the last 30 years] and there is an emptyness in the rooms. The house is much more creepy now than a few years ago. The eerie feeling from the first film will be present in the sequel, and sleeping outdoors in a tent will not exactly be less scary [after seeing this movie], one of the film’s producers, Einar Loftesnes said to BT.
Mainly shot in Budapest, Hungary, Dark Woods 2 is a sequel and a continuation, but the connection between the two movies are not entirely clear. It is not the same group of people who once again goes on a hike, and there is no reality TV show to be filmed. -It’s a separate story, but it touches the original story in several places. The water, which played a key role in the first film, is an important ingredient in the sequel. The clean-up crew will be tested, and it’s the same mythological background. Perhaps some loose threads will be rolled up in the new movie, Øie explained to Rushprint, while adding, laughingly: -I don’t really have a great overview of the rules that apply to movie’s titles and their content.
Dark Woods was a low key horror movie with emphasis on atmosphere. Øie promises that atmosphere will be an important part of the sequel too, although updated for the new times, perhaps with more typical horror elements. He cites Alfred Hitchcock’s theory about tension not being in the bang itself, but in the expecations of the bang, as an inspiration. -Fear of the unknown is always a key issue in these types of movies. The characters in the film will face powers they cannot control. And we like to build suspicion, he told Kinomagasinet.
Øie also emphasises the importance of the cast, which will make or break the credibility of the film. Dark Woods 2 stars Ellen Dorrit Petersen, Baard Owe, Mads Sjøgård Pettersen, Tomas Norström, Renate Reinsve, and Éva Magyar. One of the lead roles is played by top actor Anders Baasmo Christiansen (Journey to the Christmas Star, Kon-Tiki, Arn), in his first horror role. In Dark Woods 2 he plays a father of small children and lab technician who find himself in danger at the sanatorium. -It has been a challenge to play the hunted and being in peril […] but Øie has made sure that all the characters feel human. It is also nice to play against Baard Owe, doctor Bondo from [Lars von Trier’s] Kingdom, Baasmo Christiansen said to Dagbladet.
Ellen Dorrit Petersen is also new to the horror genre. In this movie, she plays the leader of the clean-up crew. Petersen is mostly hired to play drama roles, and had to do a lot more running and screaming than usual. To prepare for Dark Woods 2, she watched the sci-fi classic Alien, which also has a female lead, and is about an isolated group in a not so nice place. -It was very fun to be tough and grab those big emotions, Petersen said to Dagbladet about her horror debut.
The 12 million NOK (around 1.4 million euros) Dark Woods 2 opens in Norwegian theatres on October 9th, 2015.