New Scandinavian Horror

  • Friday 17. April
  • Finland 2008
    Director: Antti-Jussi Annila
    Screening: 20:30 Haapsalu Cultural Centre
  • Saturday 18. April
  • Norway 2008
    Director: Patrick Syversen
    Screening: 17:00 Haapsalu Cultural Centre
  • Sunday 19. April
  • Iceland, Finland, United Kingdom 2007
    Director: Gunnar B. Gudmundsson
    Screening: 13:00 Haapsalu Cultural Centre

New Scandinavian horror

Who made the first Scandinavian horror film? Some consider the first stylistically pure example of the genre to be Victor Sjöström's “The Phantom Carriage”: others give the nod to Benjamin Christjansen’s “Witchcraft”. It was 1922, and silent film was very much alive, above all in Germany, where Murnau came out with the great seminal “Nosferatu”. The Danish film-maker Carl Theodor Dreyer made one of his best films in the early 1930s on themes from Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”. Three decades later, the preternaturally gifted Swede Ingmar Bergman began making intimate psychological horror films, such as “Persona” (1966) or “Hour of the Wolf” (1968). Freud, and deep brooding darkness, steal into Nordic horror film. In the 1980s, the genre was awakened from seeming hibernation by the cinematic eccentric Lars von Trier, who gave the world the apocalyptic “Kingdom”, a over eight-hour-long horror comedy that sees a hospital as a metaphor of Denmark or, for that matter, any other country in the world. In the 1990s, the Danes were the ones setting the tone in Scandinavian horror film – Nicolas Wending Refn made the psychological thriller “Bleeder” as a tragedy on the human scale (screened in 1999 at PÖFF) and Andres Rønnow-Klarlund directed the „epidemic horror” movie “Posessed” (also 1999).
In the 21st century, the Norwegians have shined with slasher films, infusing the originally American genre with Norwegian humour and Nordic spareness. Their latest tour de force is a trash comedy that premiered at Sundance, “Dead Snow”, a deep homage to the exploitation genre. The Danes are turning out psychologically captivating dramas at a fast pace, while Swedes are producing original vampire movies. The most recent Swedish entry – one of the most original horror movies of this century anywhere – “Let the Right One In" was declared last year’s best and has also made it to distribution in Estonia, just like “Frostbiten”, which opened the first HÖFF three years ago and has also garnered many an award.. Across the Gulf of Finland, our northern neighbours the Finns are still feeling the sting of a misstep last year – the somewhat hollow scary movie “Dark Floors” – but their big accomplishment, “Sauna”, is making the rounds of the major film festivals and made it to the local film awards gala.
This year’s HÖFF offers three Nordic horror and fantasy films, each of them from a different genre – one a fantasy cloaked in trash film trappings “Astropia”, the second a slasher “Manhunt” and the third a sombre-toned sauna mythology “Sauna”. In spite of their different character, all three tell a tale of their people. What tale does Estonian horror film tell?

Archive: 2008 2007 2006
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