• 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

Three Swedish indie filmmakers, who unearthed an old Nordic folklore creature to spin an Evil Dead-inspired tale of gore and desperation, have secured Swedish distribution after successes in the US. The Local's Ann Törnkvist meets Tommy Wiklund and Sonny Laguna.

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
Elections 2014
Most Swedes lack info ahead of EU vote
The Green Party is one of only two parties devoting their websites to the EU elections. Here campaign manager Emma Rung presents the party's posters. Photo: Leif R Jansson/TT

Most Swedes lack info ahead of EU vote

The majority of Swedes feel the country's political parties are not doing enough to inform them about the upcoming European Parliament elections. Only two of the eight parties have dedicated their homepages to the May 25th polls. READ () »

Fatal Norrköping Brawl
Local church tried to stop Norrköping murders
Swedish police on the scene following Monday's fatal brawl. File: TT

Local church tried to stop Norrköping murders

The Syrian-Orthodox Church in Ektorp had tried to quell tensions between two rival families just hours before bad blood spilled into a massive brawl and two brothers lost their lives. READ () »

JobTalk Sweden
'Foreigners don't need to show banks Swedish ID'
The bridge that connects Sweden to the European continent. File: L.E. Daniel Larsson/Flickr

'Foreigners don't need to show banks Swedish ID'

The Swedish agency that helps Europeans fight impediments to the EU principle of free movement has revealed an increase in complaints, including one from a foreign citizen unable to open a bank account in Sweden. READ () »

Eurovision 2014
Pig heart shatters in Sweden's Eurovision clip
Sanna Nielsen in the new clip. Photo: YouTube (screenshot)

Pig heart shatters in Sweden's Eurovision clip

Sweden's Eurovision hopeful Sanna Nielsen released the official video for the song Undo on Wednesday, a clip featuring leather, slow motion destruction, and a frozen pig's heart and some violence. READ () »

Software robot pinches Swedish flats in seconds
Swedish apartments. File: The Local

Software robot pinches Swedish flats in seconds

A Swedish landlord suspects that a property fixer has set up a software robot to sign up for new flats on the market within seconds, and is charging house hunters to use the service. READ () »

Swedish zoo fire 'kills only the spiders'
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Swedish zoo fire 'kills only the spiders'

Twenty-five fire fighters were on hand on Wednesday night when a fire broke out in a southern Sweden animal park. The vast majority of the animals were unharmed, but the cluster of spiders wasn't so lucky. READ () »

Sweden Investor group posts sharp profit drop
File photo: Simon Cunningham/Flickr

Sweden Investor group posts sharp profit drop

Swedish investment giant Investor on Wednesday said its first-quarter profits slumped by a quarter, underlining Sweden's vulnerability to international instability. READ () »

Florida 'mystery knight' dies in Sweden
Michael Boatwright (R) and Medieval knight re-enactors.

Florida 'mystery knight' dies in Sweden

The "motel mystery" American who baffled US authorities by only speaking Swedish when he woke up from a coma last year has passed away, Swedish media reported on Wednesday. READ () »

Swedes open coffin of 850-year-old king
Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT

Swedes open coffin of 850-year-old king

UPDATED: Scientists pried open the 850-year-old casket of King Erik the Holy on Wednesday, hoping to find out more about the king, his crown, and his eating habits. READ () »

TeliaSonera announces first-quarter profit drop
TeliaSonera CEO Johan Dennelind. File photo: TT

TeliaSonera announces first-quarter profit drop

Stockholm-listed telecom operator TeliaSonera on Wednesday said profits had fallen in the first quarter, but hoped offering customers more data solutions in the future would turn things around. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 23
TT
Gallery
Inside the 850-year-old king's coffin
Features
Sponsored: South-eastern Sweden offers Öland beaches and more
Gallery
Swedish underwear shop puts staff in front of the camera
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The Local's Property of the Week - Täby
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - India Unlimited
Features
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - A film, food, and finance feast
National
University applications rocket to record high
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 18-20
TT
Society
Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter
Shutterstock
National
Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe
Society
Swedish supermarket Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off air
Kungahuset
Society
Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
Advertisement:
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 16
Politics
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Alfie Atkins
Society
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
National
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
National
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Society
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
National
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
YouTube
Features
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
TT
National
Abba duo hints at reunion
Private
National
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
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 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

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

720
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