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12 Amazing Scandinavian Horror Movies Guaranteed to Chill Your Bones

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We’ve been buzzing for months about exciting things brewing at Dread Central Presents; in addition to a bunch of great films coming down the pike, our first release recently became available on Amazon Prime. Villmark Asylum, the third film directed by Pål Øie, takes place in an abandoned sanitarium where a clean-up crew encounters dark forces connected to the building’s violent past.

It’s a Norwegian horror movie, and releasing a foreign/non-English-speaking film is a bold move considering many genre fans avoid subtitles like the plague. This is a testament to Dread Central Presents’ commitment to bringing fans the best content, no matter where it comes from; and it speaks to the inherent uniqueness of Scandinavian horror movies.

Those who’ve already explored the arena of Scandinavian horror know exactly what I’m talking about. Films from Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland all carry a shared aesthetic and mood, no doubt influenced by the region’s specific geography and climate. More often than not, harsh and barren landscapes permanently encased in ice become essential components; in many cases, the geography becomes a character in and of itself.

Or perhaps it has something to do with the endless nights of winters and the insomnia-inducing summers (and I’m not implying that Scandinavian filmmakers are themselves off-kilter). But it’s as though these extreme dualities are reflected in regional horror movies where bleak beauty and glorious brutality are juxtaposed to create effective, visceral results.

If Villmark Asylum ignites a desire to explore more horror movies for this bleak, yet stunning part of the world, the ones listed below (in no particular order) all deliver top-notch chills and thrills. They could even end up inspiring you to further expand your horror-horizons.


Lake Bodom (Finland, 2016)

I’ll kick off my praise of Lake Bodom by freely admitting I’ve become tired of traditional slasher tropes. It feels as though the once thriving subgenre has become a wasteland for mediocre actors, vapid scripting, and non-existent motivations. It’s almost as though those on a budget gravitate towards making slashers because they think they’re cheap and easy.

That said, Lake Bodom is one of the best slashers of the 21st Century, and I’m talking Top 5! It only abides by pre-established formulas for the first act; then, suddenly, a typical tale of horny teens in the woods becomes something altogether different—and more terrifying!

I’ve previously described Lake Bodom as a mix of the best elements of Friday the 13th, Scream, and High Tension. It’s currently streaming on Shudder, more proof that the streaming service is well worth the price of membership.


Let the Right One In (Sweden, 2008)

One of the few Scandinavian horror movies to have a significant impact in the US is Let the Right One In, based on the novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist. In an era when the vampire subgenre had been hijacked by the Twilight franchise, Let the Right One In was both romantic and terrifying.

In addition to offering unique and disturbing innovations on established vampire tropes, Let the Right One In communicates the pain of adolescence and the freedom of coming-of-age in a manner that transcends borders and language barriers. The story of Oskar and Eli could be the most universal and moving love story since Romeo and Juliette.

While the 2010 American remake, Let Me In, was fantastic, remaining fairly true to the source material, it doesn’t have the same resonance as Let the Right One In. This reflects the uniqueness of Scandinavian horror, suggesting key elements can’t be recreated anywhere else.


Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre aka Harpooned (Iceland, 2009)

The use of the word Massacre in this film’s title reflexively establishes echoes to the seminal gore-fest The Texas Chainsaw Massacre—and that’s no accident. In addition to the fact that Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre (aka Harpooned) could accurately be described as TCM on the ocean, it features original Leatherface actor Gunnar Hansen as Captain Pétur.

But Reykjavik is more than just TCM on a boat; the brutal collision of tourists and locals gives this movie a distinctive Hostel vibe, and the gory practical FX are just as gut-churning. There’s also a strong eco-horror element, one that pits the idealism of conservation against the pragmatism of survival. And in addition to the white skies and cold winds that are often indicative of Scandinavian horror, the ice-cold ocean stokes a cornucopia of primal phobias.


Cold Prey and Cold Prey 2 (Norway, 2006 and 2008)

Remember when I said Lake Bodom is one of the Top 5 slasher flicks of the 21st Century? In all seriousness, Cold Prey and Cold Prey 2 both occupy that same exclusive list, meaning Scandinavia has produced the best subgenre offerings in decades. A bold statement, perhaps, but don’t attempt to start an argument until you give these movies a spin.

Cold Prey and Cold Prey 2 are as immediate in their continuity as Halloween and Halloween II, which may have been intentional (as both examples feature a final girl from the original continuing her show-down in a hospital). But these films are more than just exemplars of convention. Though the hulking Mountain Man shares many similarities with Michael Myers, Cold Prey combines established tropes with elements unique to Norway and Scandinavia. By delivering real characters the audience can relate to, stunning settings, and powerful scripting, Cold Prey feels fresh without reinventing any wheels.

It’s worth noting that there’s a prequel, Cold Prey 3, that’s never received North American distribution—which is a damn shame.


Dead Snow and Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead (Norway, 2009 and 2012)

Like the Cold Prey franchise, the Dead Snow movies don’t reinvent any wheels, but it exceeds both the boundaries and the expectation of its specific subgenres (in this case, the cabin-in-the-woods scenario and zombies). While it’s a riotous and irreverent horror comedy, it sports a talented cast, a crackling screenplay, and a pervasively chilling aesthetic. Most importantly, it never pulls any punches with each film building to a gory climax of epic proportions.

If I led you to believe you won’t find anything you haven’t seen before, allow me to correct myself immediately. We’ve seen Nazi Zombies, yes, but never a full-on zombie war between the Germans and the Allies. Though the first Dead Snow was an international breakthrough on par with Let the Right One In, not enough people have seen the sequel which strikes all the same sweet-spots.


Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (Finland, 2010)

Years before Mike Dougherty made Krampus a household name, the fearsome anti-Santa featured prominently in Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (though they don’t use the “K” word, we know exactly whom we’re looking at). Even though Krampus pushed the boundaries of PG-13, Rare Exports earns its R rating, delivering disturbing thrills that definitely aren’t for kids.

Though a child features prominently in the story, Rare Exports is for parents. In addition to spooky and unnerving elements, the film asks Moms and Dads to remember what Christmas was like when they were kids, reminding them that the holiday is a perfect moment to heal old wounds and break destructive or dysfunctional cycles.

One thing I can promise: You’ll never look at shopping mall Santas the same after giving this one a spin.


Thale (Norway, 2012)

Those enamored by Guillermo del Toro’s creature romance The Shape of Water will love Thale, as the two films could be considered spiritual cousins. Both feature a uniquely beautiful mythic creature abused by scientists who fear them, and both are saved by unlikely rescuers who find themselves making an emotional connection that transcends all notions of the “other”.

The film’s title refers to the “Thallen,” a tribe of creatures in Scandinavian folklore somewhat comparable to English faeries. These creatures can appear in a beautiful form in order to elicit empathy, but can also reveal dangerous defenses and darker powers when threatened.


Sauna aka Filth aka Evil Rising (Finland, 2008)

Sauna is a uniquely hallucinatory and utterly captivating piece of historical horror that’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Unfolding in the aftermath of the Russo-Swedish War (1590–1595) the story revolves around two ex-soldiers (brothers) tasked with establishing a new border between the formerly feuding nations. They establish order in a Pagan village whose residents revere an ancient stone structure hidden in the dark swamps.

In addition to the creepy villagers and oppressively dismal swamp, the brothers must contend with their inner demons, specifically the atrocities they committed in the war. The movie presents themes and parallels that connect to modern anxieties related to military service and its aftermath, specifically, the struggle to reconcile battlefield experiences with civilian life, and whether a return to normalcy is even possible.


Trollhunter (Norway, 2010)

Despite how it appears on the American poster, the title of this film is Trollhunter (a single word) not Troll Hunter, but the distinction is irrelevant. I only mention this to make finding it online or in stores easier. But before you let the title conjure up memories of the slew of crappy Gremlins knock-off from the 1980s, these trolls are actually scary! Get those images of naked plastic troll dolls out of your heads immediately!

In addition to being an excellent example of Scandinavian horror, Trollhunter is a top-notch found footage flick. While there are a few of the perils that come with the territory (shaky cams, jump scares, etc.) the presentation adds to the legitimacy of the plot, which never feels excessively fantastic or artificial.

Though presented as a mockumentary produced by investigative journalists, Trollhunter is a meta-movie that will resonate with fans of Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon when the ones behind the camera find themselves in starring roles. Steeped in regional folklore, it’s an irrepressible and captivating romp from start to finish.


Hidden (Norway, 2010)

If you enjoyed Villmark Asylum on Amazon Prime, you should definitely check out Pål Øie’s sophomore movie, Hidden. If there’s one thing the bleak Scandinavian landscape lends itself to, it’s evoking feelings of loneliness, isolation, sorrow—and even death. This film utilizes these elements in an emotionally devastating story about one man’s tragic homecoming.

When KK (Kristoffer Joner) returns home to settle affairs following the death of his abusive mother, he’s forced to come to terms with long-buried memories and forgotten truths that threaten to completely obliterate his sense of self. It culminates in a moment of catharsis that’s as thrilling as it is tragic, all the while leaving audiences questioning if what we’re seeing is real, or a reflection of the tortured protagonist’s psyche. It’s a heady trip, to be sure.


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Spoilers: Which Major Walking Dead Actor Might Leave the Series After This Season?

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*** POSSIBLE SPOILERS ***

Like many of you out there, I gave up on AMC’s The Walking Dead a long time ago. In fact, I gave up after they fired Frank Darabont following the horrendous second season.

That said, I’m not bitter towards the series, and hell, even I watched the season premiere where Negan beat the brains off Big Red and the dude from Mayhem.

Also, I’m aware there has been some controversy surrounding the “death” (yeah, right) of Chandler Rigg’s character. I have no opinion on the matter.

Speaking of character deaths, we might want to expect another this season as it looks like Lauren Cohan, aka Maggie, has taken another job on the ABC pilot “Whiskey Cavalier.”

While this doesn’t immediately mean Cohan’s Maggie character will kick the big old zombie-bucket… it pretty much means that.

Variety reports that Cohan has been in negotiations with AMC for months over her return, but she does not currently have a contract for the ninth season and will instead take the lead in the new ABC pilot.

Do you think this means Maggie is done for? Let us know below!

“The Walking Dead” returns on Sunday, February 25th.

Season 8B Synopsis:
All-out war has had a devastating impact on every person involved. The communities themselves are fractured. Alexandria has been destroyed, the people at Hilltop finds themselves pinned, and the Kingdom is shattered — half of them dead, the other half controlled by the Saviors.

At the very center — Rick, having been distracted by the conflict, has just returned home to learn that Carl, who heroically shepherded the Alexandrians to safety during Negan’s attack, has been bitten by a walker. Once his sole motivation in this otherwise stark existence, Rick is forced to deal with this reality. Carl has always been a beacon of hope, a symbol for the remaining thread of humanity — lessons that the survivors around him would be wise to take with them as this war surges onward.

But Rick isn’t the only person who’s living in peril. Aaron and Enid are in a dire situation at Oceanside — unclear if they’re in friendly territory, or if they’ve just made new enemies. Father Gabriel will do his part in attempting to smuggle Dr. Carson safely back to the Hilltop, and a pregnant Maggie is wrestling with the many moral gray areas that come with leadership during war. In a standoff with the Saviors, she must decide how to proceed with the dozens of POW lives she’s currently in control of, as well as new complications that come with being a leader.

In addition to the war, Negan continues to deal with struggles within his ranks as workers, traitors, and others’ thirst for power cause conflict at the Sanctuary. Having gifted the Saviors a major victory, Eugene’s loyalty is repeatedly tested as new obstacles present themselves.

As all-out war consumes us, the line between good and evil continues to blur. People fighting for what they believe in. Everybody working together for something bigger — to feel safe and have a world worth living in.

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Filthy and Fine! The Best Shots of Ash vs. Evil Dead

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The Evil Dead franchise is my all time favorite horror series, which evolves its mythos with each entry. Of course, the original Evil Dead has been just a straight-up horror film, but thanks to the fateful meeting of filmmaker Scott Spiegel, director Sam Raimi took the franchise into a strange comedic territory, using slapstick while still keeping the tones of sheer terror. What makes this terror stay with the franchise even with Ash’s loudmouth persona is it’s influential and inspiring camera work that Sam Raimi makes a legend behind the camera.

After years of waiting for the master of horror to return to the Evil Dead franchise, our palates were satiated with “Ash Vs Evil Dead” which continued the inspiring cinematography. With two seasons of a television show under Raimi’s watchful eye and a third season on the way, I took a look at every episode in the series to see if each director on board the project kept that eye for cinematography and shooting style. The series was notorious for it’s over the top gore and gags and I could’ve sat here and just gushed over the geysers of blood emitting from every orifice in the show, but, what I found in each episode brought more and more to the table. There are still horrifying shots to balance out the comedy of the show, but there are also amazing character moments within that foreshadow and evolve each character.

Think about it, other than Ash we’ve never had a cast of characters that survived more than two minutes but now there’s a crew of Ghostbeaters! Don’t worry as we still have randoms coming in and out that leave you to ponder, “How long can this poor Shemp live?” as they burst into blood and viscera. There are shots that revel in the grotesque, but there are also shots that revel in who our heroes are and delve into their psyches, the specialty of the Deadites! For those who’d like to follow along with the shots in the show, I’ve given you the time these shots show up if you’re watching the show on Netflix skipping the recaps.

To see the images in their full-size glory, give them a groovy little click!


S1E1: “El Jefe”
Directed By Sam Raimi
12:53
The flashlight twirling on the ground illuminating the scene as it spins on the two detectives faces gives way to one of the best sequences in the series. As Amanda’s deadite partner attacks her, the light spins furiously with the actions of the scene as she tries to retrieve her gun. When she retrieves the gun and aims it at the deadite the audience member would get a sigh of relief that she would triumph but is then tricked into terror. The flashlight spinning becomes slower and slower on both their faces as the man cries in pain pleading to his partner. The light illuminates his transformation back into a deadite horrifyingly for a slow dread filled shot. This shot and sequence show Sam still has it and sets up the series for what’s to come.



S1E2: “Bait”
Directed By Michael J. Bassett
12:30
As Ash brings down the cross upon the ground the camera pans to Pablo and Kelly with a bright sunrise upon them. While the horrors of the night are over it is this sunrise the signifies the dawning of Kelley’s new life and her dialogue over this shot swears her vengeance.


S1E3: “Books From Beyond”
Directed By Michael J. Bassett
2:38
Up until this point, Ruby has remained a mystery and not given us a sense of danger. Against the howl of the windmill in the background bathing in the moonlight we see her unleash the Kandarian dagger upon the already impaled deadite with a smirk on her face. This shot unravels her mystery bit by bit hauntingly as the first person besides Ash to stare down a Deadite with no fear.


S1E4: “Brujo”
Directed By David Frazee
22:40
The Brujo’s entire set up is pretty creepy with all sorts of totems that he utilizes for good but look haunting. When Kelly steps into the barn possessed by Eligos the totems come to life and react to the evil stepping before them. The best one though is the face that quickly begins to disappear bit by bit as Kelly approaches. It utters the word Mentirosa, Spanish for a liar, as she steps forth, giving way to a visually striking and terrifying warning.


S1E5: “The Host”
Directed By: David Frazee
21:26
Pablo bids farewell to his youth and tutelage under the Brujo while stepping into a new life with Ash that is more in tune with his family’s spiritual upbringing. With each totem lighting up as Pablo walks by the shots build Pablo’s feelings of loss toward a teacher as Pablo emerges a warrior that foreshadows his importance later to come as the first magical force of good in a fight that’s only ever cast spells of evil.


S1E6: “The Killer of Killers”
Directed By Michael Hurst
20:24
This is one of the most hilarious yet meaningful shots of the episode. Amanda’s boss has become a deadite ready to kill her. Ash shoots Amanda’s boss in the head, making her question the authority she had adhered to so much. Her idea of Ash as a villain changed with that charming Smile and look to Amanda in a gory pose over the lower jaw of her former boss. Ash looks to her like Uncle Sam simply saying join us! Blood and viscera flowing around him like a fountain. Dangling legs in the background as an added bonus!


S1E7: “Fire In The Hole”
Directed By Michael Hurst
19:25
Actions in combat can tell a story just like any dance. The compatibility between our heroes is evocative of Ash and Amanda’s budding romance during the entire sequence. However, it is this one masterful shot of the two working in unison dodging hellfire that tells the story of warrior’s love lit by demon fire!


S1E8: “Ashes to Ashes”
Directed By Tony Tilse
18:21
Ash can never escape the past it seems as the series goes on. He is hesitant to trust Pablo and Kelly as friends in his adventure for fear of losing them like he has lost so many others. This infamous shot from Evil Dead 2 is one of the few things that could make him question his machismo. This time he doesn’t even bring the chainsaw down on his beloved Linda but is forced to watch as an invisible chainsaw comes down upon her head forcing him to be reminded of what he did. This plays heavily into his decision making near the end of the season.



S1E9: “Bound In Flesh”
Directed By Tony Tilse
25:20
We finally get to see the book speak and beg Ash to not destroy it. This is something we’ve become accustomed to in the comic series, but have never been treated to the book itself speaking to Ash otherwise. We as the audience become the eye of the book and in true Evil Dead fashion watch, Pablo scream as the camera rushes toward him and he fuses with the book. This moment is the change in Pablo that clashes with his new direction discovered in the shot in Episode 5, which then tortures him internally until the end of season 2 where he is constantly being pulled by the necklace of the Brujo and the evil of the books spells.


S1E10: “The Dark One”
Directed By Rick Jacobson
19:06
A dreary moonlight shot of blues against the cabin looking ominous as Kelly stares on drenched in blood and anger. It’s a hauntingly beautiful shot. Kelly has fully embraced herself as a ghost beater and is done being tormented ready to start saving her boys. For a lot of characters, this could easily be a breaking point, but this shot affirms Dana Delorenzo as Kelly among some of the most powerful and able Final Girls on the rise.


S2E1: “Home”
Directed By Rick Jacobson
27:31
This shot is very telling of Ruby’s betrayal to evil. As her children surround and attack her, she is obscured by darkness and where she lies in terror a bright light emanates from behind her illuminating the scene as if to show her becoming a hero against evil.


S2E2: “The Morgue”
Directed By Tony Tilse
16:41
When this episode aired it was one of the most talked about and disgustingly depraved things to see. A simple Camera rig in front of Ash as he struggles to get out of a corpse, pubic hairs and dick swinging in his face. If Dead Alive wanted to take Evil Dead’s title of biggest gross-out scenes, then “Ash Vs Evil Dead” took the title back with excrement and body fluids all over our hero.


S2E3: “Last Call”
Directed By Tony Tilse
23:08
There are a ton of great shots of the evil Delta but perhaps the best one is this single frame of Lacey telling her boyfriend she loves him as he is splattered across the windshield. Blood and glass between them as they try for one last kiss against the fire and demonic lighting coming from the Delta and then splat! It’s a small touching moment that makes Lacey’s character a bit more sympathetic as the show goes on. As for her boyfriend? Well, I told you there would be plenty of Shemps to kill off.


S2E4: “DUI”
Directed By Michael J. Bassett
1:45
After splattering Ash’s dad across the street, The Delta pulls up with a camera spin into the grill revealing an eye stuck in it. Ash’s one true love, his car, that’s survived everything has turned against him and killed his father just as they had reconnected. A perfect role reversal as Brock William’s severed eye is now staring down Ash through the grill of the car. No longer a window into Brock’s soul, but a sick vision of Ash’s love turned enemy.


S2E5: “Confinement”
Directed By Michael J. Bassett
17:46
Flashing between light and darkness as the skin is ripped and blood is splattered gives us a horrifying look for the first time at the main antagonist of the season. Baal emerges from the flesh of humanity showing how we are all merely tools for his psychological deceptions.


S2E6: “Trapped Inside”
Directed By Mark Beesley
11:37
The moon reflects an eerie light upon Cheryl’s picture as it begins to bleed like the statue of Mary. The innocence of Ash’s sister was never saved and her soul weeps as the flesh is resurrected for evil’s bidding.


S2E7: “Delusion”
Directed By Mark Beesley
23:59
This entire episode is about breaking down Ash’s spirit and character, making him think he’s truly insane. As he’s at the breaking point he sees his friends and his love for them saves him. It’s a really simple shot that’s amplified by Bruce’s performance, but that disturbed look against the shadowy bars across his face in the dreary room give him his eureka moment where he comes down from his insanity and understands what he has to do to win.


S2E8: “Ashy Slashy”
Directed By Tony Tilse
14:13
Throughout the season the town builds up a boogeyman mythos in Ashy Slashy that we know as an audience member isn’t true but this shot brings Ashy Slashy to life. That boogeyman becomes real as the straight jacket becomes Ashy Slashy’s costume and the fire created by the chainsaw shows a side of Ash we’ve never seen. In this shot, we are convinced he had become a mindless killer.


S2E9: “Home Again”
Directed By Rick Jacobson
19:51
We’ve only ever heard his voice and seen his ghost save for a few shots of him discovering the Necronomicon in Evil Dead 2. Professor Knowby watches his student, Tanya, bleed out on the floor. She looks up at her mentor with horror as light swings back and forth casting shadows on his face. He is almost serial killer in nature and the shot reflects how his quest for knowledge outweighs his humanity. We see Professor Knowby and his daughter Ruby are not too dissimilar.


S2E10: “Second Coming”
Directed By Rick Jacobson
26:12
The finale brings Ash back to the cabin having to completely confront his past to change the future. With Pablo dead, because of Ash’s own follies, it is in the ashes of Ash’s dark past that Pablo is reborn, no longer tormented by the Necronomicon he takes his first breath as a new human. The evil within him gone and his life ready to begin anew.


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McKenna Grace Snags Lead in Rob Lowe’s Remake of The Bad Seed

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Okay so, evidently Rob Lowe is remaking The Bad Seed. Meh, I’m interested. But wait, evidently it will be a Lifetime original film. Urgh, interest is waning.

All jokes aside, I’m intrigued by this remake. Not only is it set to star Rob Lowe, but the man will be directing and executive producing as well.

Another interesting variation is that this film will follow Lowe’s father figure dealing with the evil child, instead of the original film’s mother character played by Nancy Kelly.

And on top of that, today we have news via Deadline that McKenna Grace (Amityville: The Awakening) has been cast as the titular bad seed, Emma, and Patty McCormack – who played the evil little girl in the original, and received an Oscar nomination for performance – will co-star as the psychiatrist who treats Emma.

Grace will next be seen in the Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House from director Mike Flanagan (Hush, Gerald’s Game).

The Lifetime remake is directed and executive produced by Rob Lowe from a script by Barbara Marshall. Lowe as executive produces with Mark Wolper and Elizabeth Stephen and stars alongside Patty McCormack and McKenna Grace.

Synopsis:

Lowe plays a single father who seems to have everything under control. But when there is a terrible tragedy takes place at his daughter Emma’s (Grace) school, he is forced to question everything he thought he knew about his beloved daughter. He slowly begins to question if Emma’s exemplary behavior is just a façade and she played a role in the horrific incident. When more strange things begin to happen, he’s faced with keeping a terrible secret to protect Emma, but ultimately must stop her from striking again.

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