• Sweden edition
 
Nordic 'folklore zombie' to hit Swedish cinemas

Nordic 'folklore zombie' to hit Swedish cinemas

Published: 01 Feb 2013 16:16 GMT+01:00
Updated: 01 Feb 2013 16:16 GMT+01:00

Tommy Wiklund is driving through the winter night with deer sniffing at the edges of the road in Knivsta, a scattered satellite town near Uppsala in eastern Sweden.

The forests of the Uppland plains press up against the car.

Once a year, Wiklund, his childhood buddy Sonny Laguna, and the third musketeer David Liljeblad, rent a cabin deep in the woods and turn off their mobile phones.

Then they watch 72 hours of horror movies in a row.

”I mean, how many ’friends go on holiday in the woods’ horror movies have you seen? We know it’s a standard template,” says Laguna when explaining the premise of their new film Vittra (Wither).

The film has incorrectly been labelled "Sweden’s first zombie film". That's not to say they don't like zombies.

They both have high praise for US television series The Walking Dead, although Wiklund and Laguna note that its enduring strength is the psychological interplay of the survivors rather than trying to explain the pandemic.

Their film looks at a nearly-forgotten Nordic creature – the vittra that sleeps under ground. The reason it's not a zombie film, they explain as Wiklund pulls up at a local pizzeria, is that their interpretation of the mythical being focuses on a gradual takeover of a person's soul, rather than mindless flesh-chomping cadavres.

"If you wandered into the vittra's territory you could end up in trouble," says Wiklund, with his wide-eyed gaze and a bombastic voice that commands an entire corner of the restaurant.

WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT: The official Vitra trailer

The pair notes that some older Swedish maps still have markings for "Wither Trails" (vitterstråk), ambling paths through the wilderness, where old folklore warned that one should not build a home.

"They don’t show up on Google Maps, of course," Wiklund says.

"It was probably just a good way to control the boundaries of private land," interjects Laguna, as he pours his colleague a glass of Coca-Cola.

"I’ve managed to cut down to two litres a week, but during production I drank two litres a day," he says about the exhausting 50-day filming period, which was entirely self-financed. By day, Laguna works at Stockholm Arlanda Airport, while Wiklund is a healthcare clerk.

They have already produced the English-language film Madness, which was released in the US in 2010 and then in France and Germany. Their movie Blood Runs Cold premiered at Frightfest in 2011, with releases in the UK, US and Germany.

"Madness was a very over the top Chainsaw Massacre kind of film," Wiklund says.

"With Vittra we said, let’s do it in Swedish. Some people say language is no longer a barrier to selling films internationally, but that's not true."

Despite finding it harder to sell the Swedish-language Vittra, the filmmakers have tied up with US distributors Artsploitation and secured DVD distribution in Germany, where the film will also be shown on television.

They have also secured limited release of Vittra in Swedish cinemas in August.

Their success abroad reflects in part that sci-fi, fantasy, and horror are almost completely overlooked genres in Sweden, with vampire teen angst drama Let The Right One In a notable exception in recent years.

Instead, Norwegian filmmakers lead the Scandinavian field with films such as Troll Hunter, say Laguna and Wiklund, before peppering the conversation with a long list of other titles.

Yet one Swedish paranormal horror classic, The Visitors (Besökarna), is a favourite of Wiklund’s.

The scene in which an invisible poltergeist ties up a ghostbuster played by Johannes Brost and drowns him in a duck pond haunted many a Swedish child’s dreams in 1988.

"'Damn, Brost! Could we get him?' we asked. We were so lucky, timing-wise, to get him, because he had a gap between Avalon and the Olof Palme mini series A Pilgrim’s Death," says Wiklund.

"I was a bit thick at first because I didn’t realize quite how good of an actor he is," says Laguna, who is less of a fan of The Visitors, but is delighted to have Brost on board.

SEE A GALLERY OF IMAGES FROM THE FILMING (WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT)

They have aimed to respect the serious feel of old school classics rather than transgress into an ironic or self-depracatory style. The duo has almost no love for horror films that make fun of the genre.

"I hate Cabin in the Woods. Scream, however, might be silly but it's clever as it has a valid point about a psychopath being able to copy horror movie plots in real life," Laguna says.

Another pet peeve is Hollywood producers who have multimillion dollar budgets, but either waste it on being too parodic or not focusing enough on the special effects. Laguna looks positively disgusted when he works his way through a list of films that use special affects poorly.

In contrast to Hollywood-scale production, their company, Stockholm Syndrome Film, spent 300,000 kronor ($47,000) on Vittra.

"Our challenge is to make a low budget film not look low budget. We don’t want quality to detract from the film itself," Wiklund says.

"You can’t have people thinking 'this looks homemade' as soon as they start watching," interrupts Laguna softly.

Everything they have learned about making horror films is self-taught after high school. They credit Evil Dead producer Sam Raimi for being "a genius already at the age of 19" and say they themselves wouldn’t say no if Hollywood came knocking on their door, but they wouldn’t want to sell their souls - at least not full time.

"Being an independent filmmaker means you don’t have another person standing behind you and tapping you on your shoulder as you film," Wiklund says.

And they do everything themselves, including audio effects, which meant dragging a literal fruit bazaar into a recording studio and going haywire.

"Oranges, melons, you name it. There’s a lot of rain in the film and we almost ruined the equipment trying to replicate the sound of raindrops on a metal windowsill," Wiklund says.

"We were exhausted and left it all and when we got back it was disgusting," they say about the fruit massacre that ensued.

"It wasn't just moldy, it was crawling."

Ann Törnkvist

Follow Ann on Twitter here

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Race to be scrapped from Swedish legislation
Integration Minister Erik Ullenhag meets children in Husby, Stockholm. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Race to be scrapped from Swedish legislation

The Swedish government announced that it plans to remove all mentions of race from Swedish legislation, saying that race is a social construct which should not be encouraged in law. READ  

US aircraft 'violates' Swedish airspace

US aircraft 'violates' Swedish airspace

A mystery airplane that passed over Swedish airspace recently has been revealed as an American aircraft, sources revealed on Thursday. READ  

Elite schools stripped of 'special' privileges

Elite schools stripped of 'special' privileges

Sweden's three elite boarding schools can no longer charge tuition fees, the government announced on Thursday, in a string of changes following a two-year review. READ  

Bildt lays out four steps to Gaza peace
Photos: TT

Bildt lays out four steps to Gaza peace

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt stated that there are four steps to achieving peace in Gaza, and that it begins with removing the blockade - which has "played into Hamas' hands". READ  

Malmström snags EU commissioner post again

Malmström snags EU commissioner post again

Cecilia Malmström has been nominated to be the European Commissioner for another five years, Sweden's prime minister announced on Thursday. READ  

Stockholm Pride 2014
In Pictures: Stockholm's Historic Pride Party
Conchita Wurst belts out a ballad. Photo: Rebecca Jacobs

In Pictures: Stockholm's Historic Pride Party

With Stockholm's Pride Week in full swing, The Local's Rebecca Jacobs heads on down to the traditional Historic Party to take in the colours, Conchita, and the community. READ  

Two to hospital after Stockholm fire

Two to hospital after Stockholm fire

Two people were taken to hospital in the early hours of Thursday morning after a fire began in their central Stockholm apartment. READ  

Salmonella prompts Coop hamburger recall
Photo: Jim Cole/TT

Salmonella prompts Coop hamburger recall

Swedish supermarket chain Coop has recalled its in-store brand of fresh hamburger meat after a routine check revealed traces of salmonella in the meat. READ  

What's On in Sweden
Photo: Roger Vikström/TT

What's On in Sweden

It's Pride Week in Stockholm. Find out more about the celebrations (including the biggest Pride Parade in Scandinavia) as well as plenty of other activities in Sweden's three biggest cities. READ  

Sweden resumes aid to 'anti-gay Uganda'
Hillevi Engström and protesters against Uganda's anti-gay laws. Photos: Maja Suslin/Ben Curtis/TT

Sweden resumes aid to 'anti-gay Uganda'

Sweden has resumed sending development aid funds to Uganda, after suspending payouts back in March due to "anti-gay legislation". READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Stockholm Pride bars Sweden Democrats
National
Gender neutral pronoun 'hen' enters dictionary
Society
Top ten cafes in Stockholm
People-watching
Gallery
People-watching - Stockholm Pride
Photo: Henrik Trygg/Imagebank Sweden
Society
Sweden worst in EU at getting foreigners jobs
Blog updates

31 July

Calling a speedo a speedo (Blogweiser) »

"There are a lot of speedos on Europe’s beaches. Some European males are evidently more comfortable sporting small, stretchy suits on public beaches than I would be. I accept it may be nice to have swimwear that’s not long and cumbersome. A speedo is maybe also good for tanning. But strolling around town in a..." READ »

 

27 July

Approaching Stockholm (Around Sweden in a kayak) »

"I woke up in the comfort of my own little cabin on Eva and Rolf’s boat, it was 7:30am and I was feeling a bit groggy after a couple of beers with all the lovely locals the night before. The previous day had really taken its toll on my body and I was very stiff and..." READ »

 
 
 
Lifestyle
Stockholm Pride kicks off
Analysis
The top six ways the US and Sweden differ
National
Swedish youth suicides hit 25-year high
National
Politician reported for selling 'negro ball'
National
Police turn blind eye to Swedish 'slave trade'
Gallery
Stockholm Pride: Allsång på Skansen with Conchita Wurst
Skatteverket
Sponsored Article
Introducing... ID cards and permits in Stockholm
Gallery
People-watching, June 26th - 28th. Get inside Stockholm's hottest nightclubs
Gallery
Top ten Swedish taboos
Society
Seven-year-old Swede cycles to Berlin
Politics
'Gaza conflict needs help, not empty rhetoric'
Society
Swedes voted 'most beautiful' in the Nordics
Business & Money
Sweden demands EU clarity on Bitcoin tax
National
Swedish organic sales enjoy 'amazing' growth
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
Society
What's On in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching July 23
National
Swedish cops elect not to shoot 'angry elks'
Business & Money
New alcohol retail rules threaten micro-breweries
Gallery
People-watching Båstad
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Your finances in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Housing in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

741
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se