Eurohorror Spotlight #9: Frostbite (Sweden, 2006)

 

fb1Eurohorror Spotlight #9: Frostbite (Sweden, 2006)

aka Frostbitten

Director: Anders Banke

Starring: Grete Havenskold, Petra Nielsen, Emma Aberg

The coach trip, as it were, returns to the cold climate of Sweden for a comedy/horror that seems to be preaching “drugs are bad, mm’kay?”

Its 1944 and in Ukraine, men from the German Army Scandinavian Volunteer Division are under attack and run into the snowy woods nearby. They stumble upon a cabin and break in. It appears empty and they decide to spend the night there. In the night they wake as a previously unseen woman drops down from the rafters and grabs one of the men and climbs up the wall with amazing strength and speed. As the panic about what has happen one soldier falls down a trap door into the cabin’s basement. Down there are dead bodies and a small coffin with Maria written on it. Something from inside it tries to push the nails out of the lid. Scared, the soldiers quickly bury it before anything else will happen to them.

fb2Fast forward to what looks like the present and we see a woman driving a car with a girl, Saga, asleep next to her. They are moving into a new apartment in a region of Sweden that experiences ‘polar night’: no daylight for 30 days. Saga goes exploring the area and a man on a motorbike nearly runs her over. She walks off in disgust but something in the nearby woods is watching them. It attacks the biker. When his body is found an autopsy is carried out and two puncture marks are found on his neck.

Saga (Havenskold), the next day, is at her new school. Everyone is abuzz with the news of the murder. An eccentric student named Vega (Aberg) approaches her and invites her to a party later in the week. Vega is planning to take some pills with her that a friend found in the local hospital. The same hospital where Saga’s mother is now working that also has a ‘patient’ that may be involved in what happened in Ukraine back in 1944.

fb3The movie starts off promising thanks to the intriguing scene in the cabin. The soldiers stumbling upon the child sized coffin will grab most peoples attention, more so once the person inside screams and somehow forces the nails out of the wood, due to the fact there is something horrifying about seeing a coffin of that size. The death of a child is understandably shocking but when it transpires the child within the casket isn’t quite dead then it shocks even more. This imagery is little used as the film takes a slightly frivolous tone thereafter.

This is thanks to the ‘present day’ setting of Saga and the students of her new school. Much of the humour comes from Saga’s new school friends taking a ‘drug’ that does more to them than just getting them high. The viewer is shown what the junkies imagine they see as they start their trip: a talking dog appears frequently telling one character he is a failure. One dog, in the woods, asks if the druggie has “…seen my ball?” Then tells him it doesn’t matter as it runs away. After a while the comedy becomes too much as the plot tries to shift back towards horror. But the drug induced hallucinations and the ‘humour’ they offer still crop up in the middle of the grisly blood shed.

fb4It should be noted the drugs taken actually turn the characters into vampires. As the high passes the user is in great pain and cannot stomach anything. They eventually attack non-users and even animals. This leads to one unsettling scene when a pet rabbit is munched on by a relieved junkie-turned-vamp. The party the students attend turns into a blood bath as those who didn’t take the pills are set upon by those that did.

The setting of Frostbite does lend itself to an eerie atmosphere and environment. Every scene outside appears to be night time due to the location of the town. The vampires are aware of the lack of daylight when they taunt that “…daylight is just a month away!” This idea would later be used in 2007’s 30 Days of Night. The lighting, as a result, leaves many characters semi luminous with many darkened areas around them, ideal for any bloodsucker to make their attack.

fb5The use of drugs turning people into vampires could be an attempt to dis-encourage people from using mind altering substances. People becoming blood thirsty may be an allegory for real life users becoming addicted and wanting more drugs. It is something that will be interpreted differently from viewer to viewer, no doubt.

The film is entertaining although a little frustrating due to its over reliance on comedy. If Frostbite went for ‘all out horror’ it would have been even better.

7 out of 10.

Readily available in the UK on DVD with English subtitles.