Released Aug. 20, 2013
Unrated (equivalent to R rating for brutal bloody violence and language) – 1hr 35min
Directed by Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund
Starring Patrik Almkvist, Lisa Henni
A group of twenty-somethings head to a remote cabin for a weekend of hard partying, only to unleash an ancient evil that takes over their bodies one by one and turns them into vicious killers. That sounds familiar…
This is Swedish Evil Dead. Full stop. If it does anything substantially different, it’s that, not unlike a martial arts film, Wither is much more focused on fight scenes than typical horror fare. There is a lot of people beating the ever-loving shit out of other people in this flick.
The makers of Wither might owe Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell money if they didn’t invent a different origin for their Deadite-like demons. Here, there is a fabled subterranean race of humanoid creatures that, if you lay your eyes upon them, will steal your soul. Apparently, that leads to rabid animalistic behavior by default and it can also be spread as a contagion through bites, scratches, and projectile vomiting of infected blood. So I guess I was hasty when I said it was nothing but the Swedish Evil Dead – it’s the Swedish 28 Days Later too.
Speaking of Swedish, it’s important to note that there is a style of filmmaking that is rather distinctive to the Scandinavian region. It involves a lot of close-ups, a shortage or complete lack of wide or far shots, tight angles, and the camera all up in the middle of where the action is. Wither appears to employ that technique quite faithfully and, while it helps to create a rather claustrophobic atmosphere and very frantic action, it comes at the expense of creating a sense of place, a thing you might not acknowledge until you don’t have it. I don’t recall what the house looked like from the outside, how the house was laid out on the inside, or where the hell anything was in relation to anything else. The result was a blur of a movie – I just watched the damn thing and I’m already starting to forget it.
I gotta admit though – the demons (or withers?) did look really cool. Apart from all the bleeding they do, the bulk of the film takes place during a torrential downpour, so they’re all soaked and muddy too. Despite few defining characteristics, they manage to look distinctly repulsive, so that’s a win for the make-up team. The symphonic score was a nice touch as well – an orchestra can provide a deep sense of menace to the proceedings when used effectively, as it is here. However, the acting – while in a language I don’t understand so I have less knowledge as to how the dialogue is supposed to sound – had an awful lot of monotone speaking, leading me to believe that it’s pretty flat. Since the characters are about as deep as a bowl of soup, I guess it was more important how they were as monsters than as people, which conversely, was pretty good.
This one left me with some pretty mixed feelings – a movie that was alternately awesome and mediocre, but its damning qualities are its obvious and almost proud lack of originality and an unimpressive climactic sequence that stumbled to a shrug of an ending.
Wither gets a