directed by Anders Banke
(Paramount, 2006)

It's the great script and the terrific acting that will make you want to see this comedy horror film from Sweden about teenage vampires. That, and you get to hear vampires speaking Swedish who aren't Eric Northman from True Blood.

Sharp, witty and full of all sorts of twists, turns and neat little developments that make it an original experience, Frostbitten is a pass-the-popcorn pleaser that deserves its cult-classic status. There's a non-shocking amount of blood and gore, lots of humor, an excellent backstory, decent cgi effects for a low-budget film, a terrific soundtrack and a complete absence of hack writing and acting. It's delightful in a Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Let the Right One In kind of way.

Flashback: It's 1944, and the ragtag remnants of a Swedish volunteer army corps serving under an SS regiment are fighting the Soviet Red Army in the mountains of northern Sweden. Forced to retreat, they hide in a cabin rather than freeze to death. There, they uncover a dark secret. Flash-forward: it's 60-plus years later, and the menace they found has returned.

In the present, Annika, a medical doctor who has just gone through a painful split from her husband, moves her teenage daughter, Saga, and herself in order to begin a new job at a local hospital in Norbotten, a town in Lapland, to work with her idol, geneticist Professor Beckert. While settling into their new home, mother and daughter become involved in a series of events that have Annika caught up in the mysterious case of a young girl in a coma, whom Beckert is treating with a radical cure he won't disclose; meanwhile, Saga is learning to fit in at her new high school, miraculously being invited to a party by the most popular gothgirl in school on her very first day.

Annika discovers there's more going on with the comatose girl than merely having been in a car accident, while at the party unsupervised teens engage in experimental drug use that has unusual side effects. The link in all this is a couple of pill-popping interns from that same local hospital, who, mistaking Beckert's formula for recreational drugs, have helped themselves to his secret supply of pills -- and guess which party they went to....

The charm is in how real the whole thing feels. It's not a Hollywood movie at all, featuring vampires in one of the main revolving archetypes (vampires are really good people, splatter-gore fest, action movie disguised as vampire flick or species war featuring some type of Shark vs. Jets beatdown with werewolves). Except for the sinking-fangs-into-the-neck-bit, it doesn't feel much like a horror movie at all, a feature that some vampire/horror fans are going to dislike, while others may find it a refreshing break from the usual run. Part of its appeal is that there are not one but two likeable, believable heroes in the form of Saga and Annika, and an interesting turn-the-tables ending.

It's hard not to get caught up in the earnestness of this eager-to-please, smartly done film. Frostbitten is totally worth it.

review by
Mary Harvey

6 July 2013

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