Viking Wolf (2022) Review
When I first saw the title Viking Wolf, Vikingulven in its native Norwegian, I had visions of Norse lycanthropes raiding and pillaging their way up and down the coast. Sadly that isn’t what it’s about although it does begin with a prologue, shot like a silent film for some reason, showing a raiding party under the command of Grim Gudbrand storming an abbey.
The monks warn them against going into a locked room and assuming it to be filled with treasure, smash down the door and find a snarling red eyed wolf cub. Of course, they take it with them, and by the time their longship returns home, it’s the only thing left alive on it. The little hellhound jumps ship and disappears into the woods.
The same woods that, in the present day, seventeen year old Thale’s (Elli Rhiannon Müller Osborne, Psychobitch, Kosmos) friend Jonas (Sjur Vatne Brean, Delete Me, Three Wishes for Cinderella) has invited her to party in. That party ends with Thale and Jonas injured by some sort of animal and Elin (Silje Øksland Krohne, The Painting), the mayor’s daughter, missing.
Beyond the prologue director Stig Svendsen (Elevator, King’s Bay) and co-writer Espen Aukan (Troll, Baby Boom) don’t put a lot of imagination into Viking Wolf’s setup. Thale has just moved to Nybo and doesn’t have a lot of friends, her relationship with her policewoman mother Liv (Liv Mjönes, Midsommar, Eva & Adam) has been strained since her father died and her mother married Arthur (Vidar Magnussen, Post Mortem: No One Dies in Skarnes, The Wendy Effect). She is close to her younger sister Jenny (Mia Fosshaug Laubacher) who is deaf and communicates in sign language.
All Thale needs is a suspicious past and she’d be the perfect suspect when more people turn up dead. Oh wait, she does have one. Viking Wolf continues on the same familiar course with the arrival of both William ( Arthur Hakalahti, Mortal, The King’s Choice) an expert on wolves and Lars (Ståle Bjørnhaug, The Last Place on Earth, Psychedelica Blues), a self-proclaimed expert on werewolves. A creature is killed, but that doesn’t bring an end to the killings, etc.
All of this just sort of plods along accompanied by lots of shots of Norwegian scenery. It’s all rather tedious and incredibly slow-paced. By the time the script starts ripping off An American Werewolf in London, I was already feeling bored. The creature’s attack on the police hunting party is devoid of excitement in large part becaus ethe actual attacks are kept offscreen. Worse, a later attack onboard a bus is cut away from almost as soon as it starts meaning the film defangs what should have been its major set pieces leaving only a brief attack at the end to give the film any excitement.
The creature isn’t particularly impressive either, looking like a very large, very ugly and very obviously CGI wolf. And to complete the cycle of disappointment transformation effects are limited to a quick glimpse that lasts for about thirty seconds.
Given how good Aukan’s script for Troll was it’s a major disappointment that Viking Wolf is so dull. Granted the decision of how to handle the attack scenes may have been made after the script was written, but the lack of character development is another matter. The elements for that development are all set up and then mostly ignored for the rest of the film. This means when the film tries for an emotional ending, it falls flat because we aren’t invested in anyone and were never convinced of the connection between them.
Viking Wolf had the potential to be enjoyable, but it undercuts itself at every chance it gets, sacrificing blood and thrills for characterization and emotion that the script ends up failing to deliver. The film does have a few good scenes but they aren’t worth sitting through the rest for.
Viking Wolf is available on Netflix and is available in subtitled and dubbed versions for several languages. This review is based on the English subtitled version. If you want to wolf down a few similar films, FilmTagger can give you some suggestions.