Frostbitten (aka Frostbite, aka Frostbiten) DVD Review
Written by Steve Pattee Pattee
DVD released by Genius Entertainment
Stop throwing gnomes at me! – Vega
Directed by Anders Banke
Written by Daniel Ojanlatva
2005, Region 1, 90 minutes, Not rated
DVD released September 25th, 2007
Petra Nielsen as Annika
Grete Havnesköld as Saga
Emma T Åberg as Vega
Jonas Karlström as Sebastian
Carl-Åke Eriksson as Professor Beckert
Niklas Grönberg as John
Mikael Göransson as Jacob
Annika and Saga, mother and daughter, are new in the small town of Lapland.
Annika has taken a job at the local hospital to work with renowned geneticist Professor Beckert. Saga has come along for no other reason than she chose to live with her mother after her parents' divorce. She's certainly regretting that decision now, since their new dwellings is in the northern hemisphere, where she won't see the sun for another month.
But Saga is a trooper and doesn't harbor any ill will toward her mom. Plus, she quickly makes a new friend, Vega, and is soon invited to a party by one of her classmates.
What Saga doesn't realize is there will be drugs at this party. Drugs that were stolen from Professor Beckert's private stash. Drugs that turn their takers into vampires.
Yeah. You know you are in for a crappy time when day isn't coming for another month, and you're surrounded by bloodsuckers.
I can't remember the last well done dark comedy I saw — horror or otherwise — that I truly enjoyed. Shaun of the Dead was certainly a lot of fun, but it was a little too light for me to consider it a dark comedy . Same with Hide and Creep. Dead and Breakfast comes quite close, though. But, while I loved Breakfast, it was just a bit too slapsticky to fit the bill. I like my dark comedies subtle, witty and dry.
This movie cranks on all cylinders. There's enough blood and grue to satisfy the gorehounds, a tight, intelligent script to satisfy those tired of seeing the same-old-same-old and a solid cast that handles the script well, bringing the whole thing together nicely.
Leading the charge of the cast is Emma T Åberg as Saga's friend, Vega. Her character, on paper, is the standard "look at me, I'm wacky but loveable!", but she easily pulls it off, in part through her acting and in part because of the script. Åberg has a charisma that comes through the screen, and her character, while at first seemingly a stereotypical goth, is developed into something just a little bit more.
Petra Nielsen and Grete Havnesköld as Annika and Saga, respectively, do a fine job with the mother/daughter relationship. One scene, in which Annika helps Saga pick out her outfit for the big party, is particularly sweet. Havnesköld plays the scene well, acting as if she doesn't want her mother doting on her, but at the same time you can tell she appreciates the attention. Nielsen has her own moments when she goes from nurse to ass-kicker in the final moments of the film, which is a far cry from the typical mom she played throughout.
In addition, director Anders Banke does a fantastic job of using the long winter night to his advantage. The combination of constant darkness and snow makes this movie look cold, in both temperature and life. The entire town feels dead (and not just half of its inhabitants). Banke invests a lot of time in the town, and it pays off because it becomes another character, instead of just a location.
But the writing is what's most impressive about Frostbitten. Vampire movies are a dime a dozen, and with so many out there, it's important to bring something new to the table. While vampires in a part of the world where daylight is taking a break isn't entirely new("Tales from the Crypt" had an episode doing this in season six, and the upcoming 30 Days of Night — which was written before Frostbitten — tackles the same subject), it hasn't been done often enough to be stale. And, even if it had, Frostbitten would be at the top of the heap because there are too many great scenes in the movie to make it dull. You won't look at bunnies or garden gnomes the same again, I promise you that.
Plus, Banke takes it slow with the film's buildup, and utilizes the time wisely, effectively developing the major players. And its lack of CGI is only an added bonus. The amount of "real" blood and carnage in this flick is magnificent.
Frostbitten dances an extremely fine line between horror and comedy, aptly providing enough of each to be both fresh and entertaining.
Video and Audio:
Considering a good chunk of the film takes place in either a dreary hospital or darkened town, it's important to have a picture that doesn't slack, and Frostbitten's doesn't. Its anamorphic 2.35:1 presentation does a fairly decent job of keeping the darks dark, with no muddies. The picture could have been a little sharper at times, but, man, that story keeps you engrossed enough not to care.
Its Swedish Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack could have been better, especially when the party really got started. I wanted to be in the middle of that hell on earth, but, sadly, I was just a passerby.
English subtitles are available.
- Behind the Scenes
- Deleted Scenes
The behind-the-scenes featurette tries to pack as much as it can in its short 26 minute running time, and does a fairly good job of it. My favorite parts are the pieces on effects and set design. Not a whole lot is gained from it, but if you enjoyed the movie, you'll enjoy this featurette.
The two deleted scenes would have been better off in the movie. The first, titled "Car Scene" is should have been kept if only to add more character to two of the main police officers. The other, "Cornella's Flight" is just more carnage, and that's always good. Deleting them took nothing away from Frostbitten, but they would not have been out of place reinserted, either.
Three blooper scenes are offered, and they a little lacking. I'm a fan of blooper reels, and these barely brought a smile, much less a laugh. It's a noble effort, though.
Also thrown on the disc is the trailer for Frostbitten — which I don't recommend watching before you view the film, especially if you are going in "blind."
I admit, I was taken by surprise with Frostbitten. I liked the idea of it before going in, but I did not know it would be a dark comedy, too. Easily a good addition to your collection if you dig vampire flicks and a solid rental all around.