Good Vampire Films: Frostbite

It’s been a hell of a long time since I’ve attempted one of these and that’s purely down to how many desperate vampire films I’ve seen. I know that vampires and vampire lore has been plundered throughout the decades, and that each new attempt has to give the mythology a modern twist, but is there anything out there more pathetic than the current romantic vampire idea propagated so eagerly by the likes of Twilight and True Blood? It’s an astonishingly inept take on the monster- a Vampire is a predator that feeds on human blood. He is not some sort of English fantasy figure. Therefore, I’ve taken it upon myself to root around in the genre to try to find some examples that are worth looking at. This time, it’s the mostly unheralded Swedish 2007 film Frostbite.

Frostbite isn’t exactly a horror film. There is the odd horror element to it, but really it’s a comedy. It’s also very funny. As with the utterly abysmal Orangutan of Doom candidate 30 Days of Night, the events of Frostbite occur in a place that isn’t going to see the sun for a month. In this case Lapland. Saga (Grete Havnesköld) and her mother Annika (Petra Nielsen) have moved because Annika has a new job working for genius geneticist Beckert (Carl-Åke Eriksson). Beckert appears to be developing a wonder drug which is then stolen by Jonas Karlström’s Sebastian. The drug is distributed at a party filled with horny teenagers that Annika is attending. Next thing you know, it’s transformed everyone that’s taken it into a vampire, while Annika strives to uncover Beckert’s secret. Saga, in the meantime is having to fend off the vampiric attention of Emma Åberg’s Vega, while the local cops are coming to terms with what to do with Sebastian.

This is a frequently hilarious film. I know that sounds completely nuts, given that it is ostensibly a vampire movie, but here the writers Daniel Ojanlatva and Pidde Andersson went for every vampire related comic idea that they could, and director Anders Banke really plays up the humour at every opportunity. There are many set pieces that are flat-out hilarious, including the police putting on their armour to deal with Sebastian, the disastrous dinner party while Sebastian is turning, and the confrontation between Vega and Saga. The comedy here comes from sight gags (shooting Sebastian in the head with a tear gas cartridge is flat out hilarious), comic situations (tripping out and talking to a dog) and some genuinely witty dialogue. Of the latter, I particularly like the exchange when Saga makes a cross to deal with Vega, only to be told she’s holding it the wrong way round, almost as much as I like the policeman’s “you use tear gas to deal with a pet killer? What do you use for a murderer, anti-aircraft guns?” As I say, the humour in this film is effective.

The acting, actually, is also pretty good. The female leads are both adorable and capable and Beckert is brilliantly played as a Mad Doctor by Eriksson. However, the real plaudits go to Karlström, who’s portrayal of useless junky douchebag Sebastian is bang on the money. The look of horror on his face when he eats his girlfriend’s pet rabbit is priceless, and he’s got a neat line in dumbfounded confusion that he gets to use whenever he has to swap dialogue with a dog. Incidentally, I see the dog was originally meant to be a vampire dog, but it’s never really followed through with, and there was also meant to be a Vampire plant.

The thing is, though, that Frostbite is billed as Horror-comedy, and it just isn’t scary. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, it uses “predator vision” at the beginning to signify a vampire stalking it’s prey. I’m sorry to say this, but I really want this device retired, it’s looking tired, inept, and creatively bankrupt. Secondly, although it is Lapland and pitch black all the time, the film primarily takes place inside clean, well lit environments. There’s no attempt made to utilise the location for fear. It actually makes no sense at all to set it above the Arctic Circle- all the events of this film could quite easily take place at night. Finally, and this is the big no-no for Horror in Frostbite, it’s plagued with useless CGI. I’m now of the opinion that if I had the power to do so, I would ban CGI from Vampire films. The blood effects are well done, but the transformation into a vampire and the vampire effects in general are all done with CGI and are all terrible. Sebastian’s face in the mirror leaping to mind. Still, it’s almost de rigueur nowadays for me to whinge about lacklustre CGI in a horror film, so is to be expected.

Overall, I haven’t enjoyed a Vampire film as much as Frostbite in a hell of a long time. This is a smart, gory and frequently hilarious take on the Vampire myth. It absolutely thrashes 30 Days of Night, and it’s inevitably going to be remade within the next few years. Interestingly, Frostbite is the first ever Swedish Vampire film, and so can be thanked for kick starting them- and given that Sweden followed this good film with a truly great one, that’s not to bad a claim. All in all, I give Frostbite a well deserved 3 Changs out of 4. Recommended.

I’m still trawling through Vampire films, so when I find another good one, I’ll return to this series. There’s just so much shit out there though.

Until then,

Jarv

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About Jarv

Workshy cynic, given to posting reams of nonsense on the internet and watching films that have inexplicably got a piss poor reputation.

36 responses to “Good Vampire Films: Frostbite”

  1. just pillow talk says :

    Right, this was added to the queue after being mentioned yesterday. I’m looking forward to this one, but like you mentioned Jarv, Mrs. Pillow won’t be happy with this one. I’ll have to watch it in the other room when eventually I get to it.

    I’m hoping this matches up to Dead Snow quite well, though it sounds like it’s even funnier.

    • Jarv says :

      It’s much funnier than Dead Snow. About on a par.

      I’ve done this without spoiling, but the only real piece of horror in the film is the prologue and the very end. Both are well done. There’s gore, but it’s more funny than anything else.

      DEATH BY GARDEN GNOME!!! (which is brilliantly followed with the character saying something like “what a crap way to die”)

      • just pillow talk says :

        Hah! Garden Gnomes are clearly underutilized in movies as weapons. Warwick Davis would be perfect as a Garden Gnome come to life actually…

      • Jarv says :

        I know. It comes during a hilarious sequence. When I first saw the gnome I was hopping up and down yelling “twat her with the gnome” But what they come up with is even better.

      • just pillow talk says :

        Shit, you’re making me move this up the queue.

        I’m going to need some other rom-com shit to soften the blow a bit…

      • Jarv says :

        I’ve tried to keep this spoiler free, because there’s so much to like about it. Jonah rates it really highly as well.

      • Jarv says :

        Rom Com wise, I’m really not the person to ask. I think Koutch is.

      • just pillow talk says :

        There is one movie that would be a giant get-out-of-jail-free pass…

        But to go there of all places *shudder*….

        SATC 2.

        Now I wouldn’t have to watch it, I’ll just go to the other room. But still…

      • Jarv says :

        Save that one.

        That’s the equivalent of mutually assured destruction. Save it until you really, really need it.

      • Droid says :

        Pillows, if you’re after an acceptable romcom get either Easy A or Going The Distance. Both are enjoyable.

      • koutchboom says :

        I’ll second ‘Going the Distance’.

      • just pillow talk says :

        Hmm…those *sound* passable, but neither is available until next month. I’ve added them though…

      • Droid says :

        Our very own Emma Stone Zombieland is terrific in Easy A. The film is okay. It actually reminded me of 10 Things I Hate About You, only good, in the way it referenced a well known story. I have to break it to you though… I did not sight a single pair of big dumb combat boots.

        GDT is funny, and the two main characters are actually likeable (which is a huge change from the McConaghey/Hudson type unlikeable douchebags). I probably identified with it a bit more than most because of the long distance relationship stuff. But it’s quite a good flick.

  2. DocPazuzu says :

    Okay, Jarv, time to put down that crack pipe. Frostbiten is a terrible movie. Lifeforce at least has a huge entertainment value. This thing is simply awful. On second thought — give ME that crack pipe. I seriously want what you’ve been smoking.

    On a side note: a good use of garden gnome pwnage was in PJ’s Braindead.

    • Jarv says :

      It was genuinely funny- when the cop gets tooled up to take on Sebastian was hilarious, for example, or the dog saying “nice one, hated that fucking rabbit”, or the fight in the cellar.

      There were a lot of good jokes in it. It doesn’t work as horror, but it does as comedy.

      It’s nowhere near as good as the likes of Cold Prey, but it’s a good stab at a horror-comedy.

  3. Droid says :

    Yeah, this sounds alright. But I have to say, I hardly ever find horror movies actually scary. The Descent, The Exorcist, Scream, Nightmare on Elm St. All scary. But apart from those and a few others they’re mostly more gross than scary.

    I’d also like to add that I’m up to the twinkling like diamonds chapter in the Twilight book.

    Twinkly diamond skinned vampires FTW!!!

    • Jarv says :

      Firstly, Steve Siddle is more frightening than horror movies. Yikes!

      Secondly: Oh dear. Is your period due?

      • Droid says :

        Firstly, being Stuart Broads roommate on tour would be scarier than any horror movie. Yikes! There is some shit you can’t unsee.

        Secondly: Not until the end of the month.

      • Jarv says :

        Chicks at least fancy Broad, so you could probably pick up some as his wingman.

        Siddle looks that unhappy because after he was born the doctor slapped his mother.

      • Droid says :

        Chicks may “dig” Broad, but it’s plainly obvious that Broad doesn’t “dig” chicks. So any wingman dregs would be out of the question.

      • Jarv says :

        Ah, you’re not playing it right-

        What happens is that Broad stands there gazing lovingly into the mirror at himself while you chill with a beer. He completely ignores the chicks. They then come to you to find out what’s wrong with him and you make him out as a complete bastard and weasel in to nail them.

        Basically, he’s bait.

        Anyway, imagine if the first thing you see every morning was Siddle. Put you right off your breakfast that would.

        Worst of the lot, Michell Johnson. I reckon he’s actually like whatshisname in Braindead “But mam, I do love you most. She’s an evil slag, and will never get between us”.

      • Droid says :

        The only good thing about rooming with Siddle would be after a big night on the turps you could wake up and use the line “You look as bad as I feel.” Either that or you could spew on his face on no one would know the difference.

      • Jarv says :

        Talking about the Demon Hamster- did you see they dropped Bollinger for him for tonight?

  4. Jarv says :

    Don’t you live in Sweden Doc?

    I imagine you’re fluent- or at least passable. I wonder if a lot of the jokes arise through shoddy subtitle work.

    I’ve thought this before about films, notably Spanish ones where even I can hear that it’s been mistranslated.

    • DocPazuzu says :

      Fluent, yes. I’m trying to be magnanimous and allow for the possibility that the translation to English may have added something to the film because the orginal dialogue is dire and the jokes on a sub-‘Allo, ‘Allo level.

      Dead Snow was a hell of a lot funnier and more solid.

  5. Frank Marmoset says :

    This sounds pretty good to me. Not sure when I’m going to be in the mood for anything horror-related next, but when I am I’ll check this one out.

    And I like the CGI (mostly) in the Blade films. The reaper maw effect is awesome, and the vampire dustings look really great. CGI can be overused (or used badly) but it’s definitely got its place.

  6. Col Tigh-Fighter says :

    I like the sound of this. Im a sucker (lol) for vampire films so I will add this to the list.

    Thanks for the heads-up, Jarv 🙂

  7. ThereWolf says :

    Don’t know this one – will add it to the queue, sounds like a laugh.

    I hated 30 Days Of Night when I first saw it; second time around, liked it better. Still only mediocre though.

    Just didn’t get into Dead Snow. But Cold Prey is a classic.

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