It does fully succeed at being an entertaining werewolf flick with good CGI and the right amount of body horror peppered in.
We review the Netflix film Viking Wolf, which does not contain spoilers.
It’s only February, yet it appears 2023 is not the year of the rabbit but the year of the wolf – Werewolves, to be precise. January saw the premiere of Teen Wolf: The Movie, followed by the highly anticipated Wolf Pack, starring none other than the iconic slayer, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and now Norway just released their take on the half-human half-wolf myth with the release of Viking Wolf (or Vikingulven). The film, directed by Stig Svendsen, takes a much darker approach to werewolf lore than other titles we’ve seen so far this year, as it took inspiration from millennial-old Norse folklore.
Viking Wolf Review and Plot Summary
Viking Wolf starts by introducing the viewer to a Norse legend in which pillaging Vikings stole an angry-looking puppy from a church in Normandy (today’s France). The dog was some sort of demon hybrid that mauled its capturers before running off into the woods to spread its evil curse. We then cut to contemporary times and meet our main character, Thale (Elli Rhiannon Müller Osborne), a teenager who just moved from the city to a small town with her police officer mom, Liv (played excellently by Liv Mjönes), stepdad Arthur (Vidar Magnussen) and younger sister, Jenny (Mia Fosshaug Laubacher). Thale is a typical teen who steals beer from the fridge and goes to the local bay to hang out with her crush, Jonas (Sjur Vatne Brean). As the new girl in town, she’s on the receiving end of some ruthless bullying from peers. When Thale witnesses a brutal attack on Jonas and one of their classmates, she tries helping but gets injured herself.
As Liv is investigating the attack, things keep getting stranger. It appears the girl was killed by an animal, but what sort of animal could be so vicious? A visit from a strange man claiming to be a werewolf hunter puts the police on edge, while an animal expert called in to analyze the injuries confirms some type of wolf was indeed responsible for the teen’s death. Meanwhile, Thale is dealing with some post-traumatic stress symptoms following her attack, but she’s also going through bizarre changes, including heightened senses and hallucinations.
There are many things to enjoy about this movie. The pacing is as good as it should be in a horror movie. We get a brief introduction of who these characters are and their relationships before stepping right into the scary parts. Each kill is graphic enough to give you an idea of what’s happening without going overboard on the gore. And the werewolf itself looks brilliant. It takes a while before we get to see the creature on our screens, but when we do, it doesn’t disappoint.
This entry to the werewolf genre is gory and somewhat scary, but it tries too hard to sell the emotional connection between characters. While the plot is quite similar to the cult classic Ginger Snaps, it completely lacks the comic relief that made the 2000 classic into a… well, classic.
Viking Wolf tries to terrify, and it mostly does a solid job at keeping the viewer engaged, but some of the character’s decisions and the way they interact (or don’t interact) with one another make it hard to take it seriously. We’re supposed to believe the two sisters are close, but we see little evidence of that during the movie.
Thale’s reactions to slowly turning into a beast are robotic at best. And no one seems to notice anything’s wrong with her for the longest time. Liv and Thele share almost no scenes throughout the entire film, making the whole mother-daughter plot point almost redundant. It would have been the same film if those two characters were strangers.
Is Viking Wolf good?
Viking Wolf fails at its attempts to tell a deeply emotional story. It does fully succeed at being an entertaining werewolf flick with good CGI and the right amount of body horror peppered in. As long as you don’t walk in expecting a masterpiece, you’re very likely to enjoy the ride.
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