Sargad is the low budget Swedish indie horror that follows in the footsteps of genre classics that deal with revenge in a variety of ways. “Sargad” means “wounded”, which is exactly what the film is about.
From the land that practically created the rape-revenge film genre comes Sargad, out on DVD since February. The film also happens to be the latest horror film from Sweden, a country notorious for producing very few horror films, and when it does, they are mostly completely independent and small. Directed by Andres R. Ramos from a script by Sarah Giercksky (who also plays the lead role), the film is about a young woman, Elina, who drives to a cabin with her mother and younger sister to spread her dad’s ashes. The family used to live in the cabin and decided it is the perfect place to get their dad to rest in peace. Unfortunately they encounter three men that makes their weekend a living hell. As in all revenge films, revengue is due, preferably the brutal kind.
Reportedly made on a budget of 3000 dollars, Sargad took inspiration from well known revenge films, mostly I spit on your grave (1978), but also incorporates personal experiences from writer-actress Giercksky’s life. She lost her dad to cancer when she was 10, and Elina’s grip on violence was translated from Giercksky’s own amateur MMA career. Sargad’s cinematic roots goes back even further, as it sits in the same (rape) revenge genre as Thriller – A Cruel Picture (1973) and (often less thought of as a genre entry) Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring (1960), which by many is said to have launched the genre. Even if Sweden is the home of two distinguished classics, it does not mean that the Swedish film history is full of such movies. Sargad is only one of a few but comes as part of a small wave of international female driven revenge films such as Revenge (2017) and the upcoming The Nightingale (2018).
Having originally planned another revenge film a few years ago, and also worked on various short films, Giercksky started planning her first feature movie in 2015 and worked on the screenplay for 9 months. She is also the film’s main special effects artists, so blood and guts (including a combo in a scene involving a male body part) is to be expected. The film shot its first trailer in 2015 and got on a festival run last August, with the general release on DVD (along with a range of merchandise) now available to worldwide buyers from the film’s official web shop.
-Women has this personal perspective on the genre, based on personal experiences or knowing someone who has been wounded. I agree that the rape/revenge genre can be a strength, Sarah Giercksky said to the newspaper Stockholm Direct when Sargad was shown at the Women in Horror film festival in Stockholm in February. In these two pre-production videos you can hear Giercksky, who was introduced to horror when she watched Halloweeen (1978) as a six year old girl, talk more about the background of the movie.
The film has been reviewied in several blogs and film websites. Here are some randomly selected examples:
- House of tortured souls: “Overall, with the title Sargad, which translates to Wounded in English, you get to watch a phenomenal tale of revenge unfold and I highly recommend it for all my indie film lovers!”
- Searchmytrash.com: “Of course, it’s hard to overlook the parallels with I Spit on Your Grave when watching Sargad, what with the female avenger and the backwood settings and all, but at the same time one can’t deny that this is a very tightly scripted thriller in its own right carried by atmospheric settings, relatable characters, and violence and gore that really hurt.”
- Morbidly Beautiful: “Sargad takes an intelligent approach to revenge horror, which helps it to stand out as a unique entry in the genre – proving to be an is an impressive feature debut.”
- Slaughterfilm: “The film is of the micro budget variety, but it manages to accomplish quite a bit with very little. I mentioned before that the film seems inspired by others like I Spit on Your Grave. It doesn’t achieve the same grittiness of the rape and revenge classic, but it is a film that isn’t afraid to show it’s teeth.”
- Adam the movie god: “Even though Sargad didn’t do a lot for me, I can see potential in this cast and crew and there’s certainly a platform to work from.”
- ttf13.com: “Sure, it wasn’t under the best conditions, but you still managed to put together a fairly entertaining homage; one with a nicely added subversive twist. If this film represents the start, I can only imagine what the future holds for new fans like me.”
Sargad stars Sarah Giercksky, Tindra Hedlund, Jesper Hall, Oscar Rusanen, Twizz Twizzed, Xander Turian, Alice Henriksson and Birgitta Nord.