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Viking Wolf Is Another Lycanthropic Dud

I haven’t known about Viking Wolf for a long time, but for the few days it was on my radar, I was really excited. I’m a huge fan of werewolves, and the trailer for this film was excellent. It promised a super tense thrill ride with some really cool lycanthropic action, so I couldn’t wait to check out the full movie.

Viking Wolf was directed and co-written by Stig Svendsen, and it stars Liv Mjönes, Elli Rhiannon Müller Osborne, Arthur Hakalahti, Sjur Vatne Brean, Vidar Magnussen, and Mia Fosshaug Laubacher. It’s set in a small town in Norway, and it’s about a teenage girl named Thale who’s just moved there from Sweden. Soon after arriving, she attends a party with some of her classmates, and on her way home, she witnesses a brutal murder. At first, the police don’t know who or what did it, but they soon realize that they’re dealing with a creature unlike anything they’ve ever experienced.

On top of that, as the police are trying to solve this murder, Thale has her own issues to deal with. See, she didn’t just witness the attack. She was involved in it as well, and the creature took a small chunk out of her shoulder before running off with its dinner. That apparently minor injury eventually leads her to start transforming into a werewolf herself, so her mother, a local police officer, sets off to stop the metamorphosis before it becomes too late.

A werewolf looking scary

Like I said, I was really excited for Viking Wolf, but unfortunately, it didn’t live up to my expectations. To be fair, it has its moments, but it also has a couple of big flaws that completely ruin the experience. To begin, the characters just aren’t very good, so the movie never got me invested in the residents of this small town and their dark story.

To see what I mean, let’s start with Thale, the main character. She’s a teenage girl who butts heads with her parents and struggles to fit in with the other kids in her new town and school, and there’s not much more to her than those worn-out cliches. She’s just like every other teenage girl in every other movie ever made, so I was never able to form any sort of genuine emotional connection with her.

And when we turn to the other characters in Viking Wolf, we see the same exact problem. Nobody in this film has much of an identity beyond their role in the story or their relationship with Thale. For example, Thale’s sister is just the main character’s sister, and Thale’s step-father is just the stereotypical step-father who unsuccessfully tries to connect with his step-daughter. Like Thale herself, these characters simply aren’t fleshed out nearly enough, so it’s tough to find a reason to care about them or to worry about them when they find themselves in danger.

That being said, bad characters aren’t necessarily a death sentence to a horror movie. They may bring it down a few notches, but if the horror is good, the film can still end up being a winner. Unfortunately though, the horror is this movie’s other big weakness. There’s not a ton of werewolf action in it, and up until the last 15 minutes or so, the little bit of action we do get is very underwhelming.

A girl looking at herself in a mirror

Viking Wolf tries to take a mostly Jaws-esque approach by not showing you the creature for the majority of its runtime, and while I understand and even appreciate that strategy, it just doesn’t work here. See, if a movie is going to take that approach, the rest of it has to be good. The characters and their story have to hold you over until you finally get to see the monster go all out, but if the characters are bad, that’s just not going to happen. Instead, the lack of horror will only make the weak characters stand out even more, and that’s exactly what happens here.

Then, when you finally do get some real werewolf action in the third act, it falls flat. To be fair, it’s not that this part of the film is bad. It’s not. In fact, in isolation, the final 15 minutes or so are actually fairly decent. The problem is that it’s just too little too late. By the time I got there, I had already checked out emotionally, so I simply didn’t care what happened to these people. That sapped these scenes of all their effectiveness, so instead of enjoying some cool horror, I spent the last minutes of the movie waiting for it to finally be over.

Before we wrap up, I do have to give Viking Wolf credit for one big thing it gets right: Thale’s slow transformation into a werewolf. The movie could’ve easily just taken the lazy route and given us Ginger Snaps 2.0, but it didn’t. Granted, the girl’s metamorphosis is a bit Ginger Snaps-esque, but it’s also unique enough that it doesn’t feel like a cheap rip-off. In particular, Thale experiences some scary hallucinations before her physical transformation begins, and I thought those scenes were pretty cool. They’re not groundbreaking, but in a sea of otherwise rather mediocre horror, they’re good enough that they deserve a mention.

However, in the grand scheme of things, they’re not nearly enough to save this film. Viking Wolf just can’t overcome the deadly one-two punch of bad characters and mostly lackluster horror, so at the end of the day, I’m sad to say that I wouldn’t recommend it. Sure, it has its moments here and there, but on the whole, if you’re looking for some good new horror, you’re better off looking elsewhere.

Viking Wolf is streaming on Netflix right now.

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Written by JP Nunez

JP Nunez is a lifelong horror fan. From a very early age, he learned to love monsters, ghosts, and all things spooky, and it's still his favorite genre today. He blogs at Embrace Your Fears.

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