Sunday, December 23, 2007


Ukraine, 1944.
The German Army Scandinavian Volunteer Division: SS Panzer Division Wiking.
Separated from their unit. Lost and freezing.

This is how Anders Banke‘s Frostbiten starts, with a promising WWII-set sequence, but that quickly proves to be mere backstory, as we soon flash-forward to the present-day, where single mother Annika (Petra Nielsen) and teen-aged daughter Saga (Grete Havneskold) have just moved to a new town in Northern Sweden, where polar night is all the rage, and Annika has a job at the local hospital.
She’s here because of her interest in genetics, and the pioneering work of one Professor Beckert (Carl-Ake Eriksson). Beckert, you see, was one of the young men we saw in the opening sequence, and he’s at the heart of the matter that will serve as the crux for the events of the film.

Now, due to the tone and execution of that WWII Ukraine sequence, what I wasn’t quite prepared for in the main bulk of Frostbiten, was the humourous streak that stretches down through the rest of its running time.
I’ve talked about the downside of horror-comedy mash-ups before, and sad to say, Frostbiten only gladly bumps into that downside. The funny just really isn’t that funny here, if you know what I mean. (I will, however, cop to getting a kick out of the talking animals. That’s about it, though.)
What’s worse, the film boasts a little too many subplots for its own good, as in the latter half, we cut back and forth between narrative strands and characters to the detriment of the film, and the annoyance of the audience.

Thus, not only does the opening section fail to set the tone for all that follows in its wake, but the sequence of events that lead to the main problem of Frostbiten is annoyingly juvenile. Pile onto that the slipshod journey to the end credits, which is an irritating hopscotch voyage of scenes that aren’t really allowed to breathe and flow naturally into one another, and you have much of what is wrong with Frostbiten.
Then, as if that weren’t bad enough, by the time we do reach the end credits, there are a number of subplots left open and dangling (and I’m not even referring to the happy family in the ambulance nor the cops in trouble bits), so much so that the feeling of dissatisfaction—already considerable to begin with—gets even more magnified.
And while there are perhaps one or two scenes that are effective, and the design for the main vampire is passably interesting, there are bits in here where the use of dodgy CGI makes for less-than-stellar results.

I’m aware that Frostbiten has gotten nods at some of the festivals it’s screened at, but in the end, it really doesn’t have much bite for me.
As I’ve said before of some other horror-comedy mash-ups, the horror half isn’t that bloody or gory and doesn’t offer anything new, and the comedy half isn’t all that funny either.

Parting shot: I rather like the DVD cover art for Frostbite, but again, it does nothing to indicate the horror-comedy mash-up nature of the film. That image just screams straight-forward horror to me.
And the tag line makes you think the whole polar night thing is a central plot element that comes into play more than it actually does.

Parting shot 2: Now if there’s one recent vampire movie that’s worth your time, it’s David Slade’s 30 Days of Night, which, incidentally, utilizes the whole month-long night scenario in a far more effective manner. (See review in Archive.)

(Frostbite DVD cover art courtesy of

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