Wither (2012)

Posted: June 17, 2014 in Uncategorized
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A group of young adults head deep into the woods to get away from it all and party in a remote cabin; but they hadn’t counted on one of them awaking an ancient evil that resides in the basement.

That plot summary feels awfully familiar, doesn’t it?

“Wither” (“Vittra”) is a Swedish horror film from Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wikland that mixes an “Evil Dead” style set-up with zombie mythology. Made in 2012, it’s Swedish theatrical debut came in late 2013 and it will reach UK audiences on June 23 2014 via a DVD release from Signature Entertainment.

Attempting to straddle than fine line between “homage” and “shameless rip-off”, “Wither” can’t maintain it’s balance and ends up collapsing face-first into the latter camp. The overly familiar set-up would have been acceptable if there were any originality on display in other areas, or if the film had a unique feel in some way, but early promise fades away as cliches are ticked off one by one in a rote manner, as if the script were merely a checklist of horror movie tropes. The poorly developed stereotypical characters run headlong into a melange of stale horror cliches; making the same inexplicable mistakes that you’ve seen similar characters make a thousand times before (yes, given a choice between running out of the door and hiding upstairs, they choose certain death).

The acting is truly terrible from the majority of the cast (it is a shame that Johnannes Brost didn’t get more screen-time, as his haunted delivery and craggy features hint at a background story much more compelling than the one told here), largely dull and naturalistic in style with the exception of the inexplicable wide-eyed reaction shots which wouldn’t be out of place in a “Carry On” movie. The only character in the film who has been given a discernible personality is such a monumental arsehat that you assume he will be the butt of all the jokes, but alas, he is supposed to be legitimately cool, lighting up cigarette after cigarette while the female cast try to get into his pants.

Those who like things bloody will likely get a kick, as the gore is well done and plentiful, although fairly unimaginative. The action plays out with a certain style, as Laguna and Wikland attempt to invest proceedings with a credible “Scandi-thriller” dryness. It is a shame in many ways that they didn’t concentrate more on that, as the creepy early section is definitely the most effective aspect of the film, horror seen though the prism of their national identity, threatening an interesting twist on the genre. Sadly the film too quickly descends into a knock-off of American cinema, and there is no way the film can compare to what it apes, especially on such a tiny budget.

“Wither” is a massive let-down from a country that has actually done a sterling job recently in producing high quality genre pictures like “Let the Right One In”, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”, “Frostbite” and even the incredibly fun “Kopps”. Shamelessly derivative in what seems to be a calculating fashion, it really is hard to recommend this film to anyone. It tries to be “The Evil Dead”, but where Sam Raimi made a low-budget film that showcased his skill and originality, Laguna and Wikland illustrate only that they are capable mimics who lack ingenuity and humour. They may have had more luck if they had gone the Raimi route; attacked the premise with some playfulness, called it something silly like “Bork of the Dead”, and had some fun. Instead they have presented us with a dreary and dull film, lacking in imagination and, most importantly, entertainment.

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