Viking Wolf, billed as Norway’s first werewolf movie, delivers as promised. This recent Netflix acquisition doesn’t mislead its audience; there is definitely a wild lycan on the loose in a small Norwegian town. However, Stig Svendsen’s movie doesn’t have the typical origin found in these kinds of stories; the werewolf myth here has been adapted to better fit its Scandinavian environment. The end result is a unique, if not flawed new addition to the pack.
Despite its cheesy title, Viking Wolf (originally Vikingulven) is a serious movie. It takes the trademarks of modern Scandi-noir media and applies it to this creature-feature. In the story, a teenage city transplant named Thale Berg (Elli Rhiannon Müller Osbourne) moves to a place called Nybø after her father passed away. His death has affected the main character’s relationship with her mother (Liv Mjönes), and that tension plays a significant role in Thale’s fate. It’s during a party that Thale first encounters the titular beast; what looks to be a large wolf drags a random partygoer to her bloody death, but not before nipping Thale in the process.
Viking Wolf looks like your standard Scandinavian police-procedural thriller. There are plentiful wide shots of rural vistas that are indeed tranquil and beautiful to look at, but they’re also unremarkable. In addition, Thale’s mother is the frazzled cop in charge of finding whatever killed both that unfortunate party guest and attacked her own daughter. The stress of this case is then piled on top of the strain caused by her home life. Thale resents her mother since losing her father, hence why the teen doesn’t reach out when her condition starts to worsen.
Co-writers Svendsen and Espen Aukan (Troll) invent a distinctive mythos for their werewolf, but apart from those details, this movie doesn’t have much in the way of originality. Thale becoming cursed in the midst of adolescence is something we have seen before — and will, without a doubt, see again — and her eventual attack on the town evokes memories of a subgenre benchmark, An American Werewolf in London. In this movie, what you think will happen almost always does, and it’s done with considerably less effectiveness.
The werewolf itself will disappoint fans of humanoid designs. The fact that the creature looks like a common wolf, only bigger and less kempt, probably has more to do with the movie’s realistic presentation. The story doesn’t avoid fantasy or pretend this werewolf exists in nature, but the story has an otherwise no-nonsense execution. Thale’s mother takes a visiting werewolf hunter’s advice and information to heart, but the ensuing chase and confrontations with her transformed daughter are unimaginative. In addition, the CGI used for the werewolves does more harm than good. As the monster closes in on its victims, the unconvincing visuals cause you to feel disconnected from the action on screen.
Had it not been for its setting and regional lore, Viking Wolf would be forgotten. The blood and action are each meager in a movie of this breed, and the pacing is often sluggish. The mother-daughter story doesn’t reach its full potential either, and the outcome is as sterile as the movie’s aesthetic.
Viking Wolf is now streaming on Netflix.