19th Jul2013

‘Wither’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Patrik Almqvist, Lisa Henni, Amanda Renberg, Patrick Saxe, Ralf Beck | Written by Sonny Laguna, Tommy Wiklund, David Liljeblad | Directed by Sonny Laguna, Tommy Wiklund

Wither-gore

Ida and Albin are thrilled to be setting off for a fun holiday with their friends to a remote cabin in the vast Nordic woodlands. But their carefree weekend comes unhinged when one of them accidentally unleashes a mysterious and murderous creature trapped in the basement. Worse, under the floorboards lurks an evil from Sweden’s dark past. As the savage demon begins its assault, the blood-dredged body count mounts, and with it more creatures of the night out for the taste of freshly killed human flesh. Dazed and very confused the friends mount their own desperate counterattack, one that includes decapitations, dismemberments, copious splatter and axes through the brain.

I was quite a fan of co-director Sonny Laguna’s previous horror flick, Blood Runs Cold, in fact that films superb long, drawn-out suspense-filled scenes made a real impact on me, overcoming the films more detrimental aspects. And whilst everything about Blood Runs Cold was very “same-old-same-old” it was still a pretty good entry into the slasher genre, with a cracking villain at it core – the same which cannot be said for Wither….

If I tell you that the German re-title of Wither is Cabin of the Dead I’m guessing you can imagine EXACTLY what happens in this movie – and you’d be right. A cabin in the woods, a group of kids, and something in the basement. Given the idea that the film is based on Swedish folklore that tells the legend of almost-human creatures living underground, it’s not hard to realise that this is in fact yet another homage to Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead. In fact Wither is such a blatant “homage” it joins Damned by Dawn in the small, but growing number of films which really want to be Evil Dead 4 by any other name!

I can appreciate the fact that Stockholm Syndrome Film, made up of Sonny Laguna, Tommy Wiklund and David Liljeblad, are making these films on a micro-budget and as such everything is left on the screen. I can also appreciate that the trio are standing tall as the premiere producers of horror in Sweden (the only other Swedish horror of note is Let The Right One In), which is why I’m willing to give Wither a wide berth.

It may not live up to the promise I saw in Blood Runs Cold but Wither is still an effective slice of gory horror that fans of the genre will undoubtedly get a kick out of – plus there are some good practical make-up effects which, given the budget, has to be commended. Laguna and Wicklund could have gone down the CG route to save money and despite the effects struggling on occasion to live up to the story, I’m glad they didn’t use CGI. Practical effects, for me, will win hands down every time.

However whereas Laguna’s Blood Runs Cold has some positive aspects (the villain, the location and the atmosphere) which allowed it to stand out from a myriad of other similar slasher, Wither has little similar redeeming qualities. It’s all very much by-the-humbers, nothing we haven’t seen before. Yet even with these issues, I still found something to enjoy about Wither‘s gory little tale – maybe it was my frame of mind at the time, or the fact this is just a fun, blood-soaked thrill-ride. Either way I did have fun watching it and that’s more I can say about some recent horror releases I’ve seen!

And I’m sure that, given a few more films under their belts, the guys at Stockholm Syndrome Film will be the ones to give us THE next great Scandinavian horror film. I know I’ll keep watching their films in the meantime.

*** 3/5

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2 Responses to “‘Wither’ Review”

  • Thanks for the review. Have to point out however, the title “Cabin of the dead” has nothing to do with us, it’s the german distributor that gave it that name. Our original title is of course “Vittra” in Swedish and “Wither” in English. That is all.

    / S