• 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
Brit's charity tractor trek heads for Sweden
The vintage tractor ready to travel from UK to north Norway. Photo: Peter Matheson

Brit's charity tractor trek heads for Sweden

A British man is set next month to drive from Scotland, across Sweden, and to the northern tip of Norway on a vintage tractor to raise money for a cancer charity. READ  

Sweden agency hikes heat warning to 'extreme'
This canine friend is not amused. Photo: TT

Sweden agency hikes heat warning to 'extreme'

Swedish weather agency SMHI has raised its weather warning, giving notice of "extremely high temperatures" in parts of the country. READ  

Songs for a hot Swedish summer
Ted Gärdestad. Photo: TT

Songs for a hot Swedish summer

Contributor Paul Connolly has put together a list of Swedish songs to capture balmy summer days, which in his neck of the northern woods are pushing the mercury above 35c for the first time in a century. READ  

Swedes suffer as buses boil in the summer sun
Photo: TT

Swedes suffer as buses boil in the summer sun

Stockholm's local traffic authority has received almost 300 complaints since June 1st with many regarding stifling heat on the city's buses, which lack air con. READ  

Grounded flights strand Swedes in Tel Aviv
Photo: Matt Rourke/TT

Grounded flights strand Swedes in Tel Aviv

UPDATE: About 270 passengers planning to fly to Stockholm are still stranded in Tel Aviv, and airlines have stated that flights will likely be grounded on Thursday as well. READ  

The Local List
Top ten: Swedish taboos
The butter knife is for butter. Photo: Mats Sandelin/TT

Top ten: Swedish taboos

From standing in line to taking your hols in the off-season, Sweden is a society with customs and faux pas, the Danes might say taboos. Here is a list of ten to watch out for. READ  

Fears mount for Swede kidnapped in Ukraine
A tank in Horlivka. Photo: Dmitry Lovetsky/TT

Fears mount for Swede kidnapped in Ukraine

A mediator who handles prisoner exchanges between Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels said on Wednesday that he feared for the life of a kidnapped Swede. READ  

Vattenfall cuts losses despite 'tough market'
Photo: TT

Vattenfall cuts losses despite 'tough market'

Swedish power group Vattenfall said on Wednesday that second quarter losses had been cut despite trying market conditions, forecasting that energy prices were unlikely to recover in the "foreseeable future". READ  

Swedes 'most beautiful' in the Nordics
Swedish actors Peter Johansson, Anna Sahlin and Måns Zelmerlöw. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

Swedes 'most beautiful' in the Nordics

Who is the fairest of them all? Swedes are, according to the rest of the Nordic nations in a recent survey. READ  

My Swedish Career
American teams up with Swede to beat cancer
Matthew Volsky holding the Gynocoular colposcope which is used for screening cervical cancer. Photo: Gynocoular

American teams up with Swede to beat cancer

When Matthew Volsky first came to Sweden he didn't think he would stick around. Six years and a pioneering invention later he tells The Local about the medical device which is helping save lives around the world. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Swedish cops elect not to shoot 'angry elks'
Business & Money
New alcohol retail rules threaten micro-breweries
Gallery
People-watching Båstad
Business & Money
Sweden falls to third in global innovation index
Society
Swedish ornithologists keep webcam watch
Blog updates

22 July

Det (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! “Det” is a personal pronoun that can be used in many ways, and it might me confusing if you always translate “det” to English “it”. In this article I will do my best to guide you to how to use “det”. Det replacing a word, a phrase or a clause Let us begin with the less confusing..." READ »

 

22 July

PROTECTING GIRLS FROM ABUSE OF THEIR RIGHTS (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"Today (22 July) my Prime Minister, David Cameron, and UNICEF, are hosting the world’s first #GirlSummit in London. The Summit’s aim is to mobilise domestic and international efforts to end the appalling practices of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Child Early Forced Marriage (CEFM). This is a high priority for the UK government and the Prime..." READ »

 
 
 
Photo: Andreas Nordström/Image Bank Sweden
Gallery
Top ten Swedish beach hot spots
Tech
Swedish Wiki vet sets new content record
Photo: Fastighetsbyrån
Lifestyle
In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week
Photo: Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching July 15-16
Photo: Ola Ericson/Image Bank Sweden
Society
What's On in Sweden
Photo: Lisa Mikulski
National
Hope springs eternal for expat pet shop owner
Gallery
Princess Estelle steals limelight at mum's birthday
National
Swedes risk infants' lives by covering up prams
National
Swede runs for office just using Bitcoin funds
Gallery
People-watching July 11-13
National
Malmö mayor slams Danish beggar ban
National
Swedish anti-abortion midwife sues county
National
Swede's salary chopped for Facebook use
National
Northern Sweden warmest in 90 years
Gallery
'Victoria Day': Crown Princess Victoria turns 37
Politics
Mona Sahlin to fight extremism in Sweden
National
EU tells Sweden to cover up snus flavours
Society
Swede snags assassin role in Tom Cruise film
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

702
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