Bland werewolf flick fails to stand out from the pack
The opening of Viking Wolf takes us back in time to 1050 when a band of Vikings plunder an abbey in Normandy and discover a wolf hidden in a secret room. They take the animal back to their boat and sail with it to Norway, but on their journey, they realise their new pet is something far more than it appears. Any guesses for what it might be?
Sadly, this is not a movie about Vikings versus werewolves. It would have been a much better movie if it were. After the intriguing prologue, the movie quickly deviates away from the period setting by taking us forward to present-day Norway where we are introduced to a teenage girl named Thale (Elli Rhiannon) who has moved to the small town of Nybo with her family.
This change in location and time period is rather disappointing as rather than getting a fantastical monster movie with a few elements of historical truth, we have been given a teenage horror flick that brings to mind such movies as Ginger Snaps and Silver Bullet but which doesn’t add anything fresh to the werewolf genre.
The present-day setting isn’t the only thing that disappoints as even the most undemanding of horror fans will be dissatisfied with this one. There is very little bloodletting, there are no real scares to speak of, and the story is mostly uninteresting. Even the special effects that bring the movie’s werewolves to life aren’t that great.
40 years ago, make-up artist Rick Baker gave us nightmares thanks to the incredible-looking werewolf effects he created for the transformation sequences in An American Werewolf in London. You would expect a modern-day movie to rival or better these but what we get here are CGI effects that are passable but hardly astonishing, and far removed from the effects work that Baker used all those years ago.
In terms of story, this is your typical high school tale of a new-in-town teenage girl who struggles to fit in with her peers. Of course, this is as much a werewolf movie as it is a teenage drama, but even in this context, we have seen movies of this kind before, including the recent Teen Wolf: The Movie and the titles we previously mentioned.
This one focuses on 17-year-old Thale who has a rather nasty encounter with a creature that carries one of her classmates away into the woods. Thale is injured by the beast and when she later starts to have strange visions, it becomes apparent that she is going through more than just teenage growing pains. There is the suggestion that she has become infected by the thing that attacked her (no prizes for guessing what that ‘thing’ is), so when a series of killings start to take place around town, we naturally assume she has something to do with them.
The local police, led by Thale’s mother Liv are quick to investigate the slayings of the townsfolk. They assume a wolf is to blame but when they recruit a wolf expert (who looks more like a high school graduate than an experienced researcher), they are told something much bigger in size is behind the carnage.
Later in the movie, Liv meets a one-armed werewolf hunter who advises her to carry silver bullets in her gun but she is dismissive of his assertion that a mythological monster is the cause of the attacks. It’s not long before she calls on his services, of course, as she soon realises that he’s not the nutty-old crackpot that she initially thought him to be.
Unfortunately, the movie plods from one scene to the next, with little in the way of horror or excitement, so you shouldn’t expect many chills or thrills with this tepid effort. Some scenes begin quite promisingly, such as a sequence which starts with a werewolf transformation on a packed bus, but they rarely end in a satisfying way. This is because the action is largely kept off-screen, as is the case with the bus scene where we never get to witness the subsequent werewolf attack on the passengers.
It’s not that we need to see scenes that feature excessive gore and mutilation but with a movie like this one, you would expect a few tense sequences to quicken the pulse. Instead, we are mostly told something bad happened instead of being shown the ins and outs of the horrific events that take place.
The movie’s ending is also dissatisfying. It’s rather ambiguous, presumably because writer-director Stig Svendsen is interested in doing a sequel. But this frustrates rather than intrigues, and as the rest of the movie is bland and unoriginal, you will probably have no interest in seeing a follow-up to this movie anyway.
On the plus side, the acting is decent and the Norwegian locations are pretty, so it’s not a complete waste of time. But as the story is thin and uninteresting, with very few attempts to expand the mythology of the ancient evil that is introduced at the beginning of the story, this becomes another mediocre werewolf movie that isn’t worth a place on your streaming watchlist.
As such, you shouldn’t worry too much about missing Viking Wolf even if you are a werewolf movie completist. There are better movies of this type out there, including the fairly recent Werewolves Within, so consider that blackly funny movie or one of the previous titles we mentioned, instead of this less-than-hair-raising horror flick that fails to justify its existence.
Read More: Viking Wolf Ending Explained
Verdict - 5/10
1 thought on “Viking Wolf (2023) Netflix Movie Review – Bland werewolf flick fails to stand out from the pack”
I would like to see a 2nd movie developed around the obvious connection between sisters and the younger sisters desire and promise to properly care for Thale…if such can be done. Besides both parents have also been bitten so what role does this issue play?