Director: Sonny Laguna & Tommy Wiklund
Script: Sonny Laguna, David Liljebald & Tommy Wiklund
Cast: Patrik Almkvist, Lisa Henni, Amanda Renberg, Patrick Saxe
Running time: 92 mins
A group of young people head off for a carefree weekend of giggles and groping at one of their numbers’ parent’s ancestral retreats. However, not long before they arrive there another family have already visited the ‘cabin in the woods’ and disturbed something living in the earth of the cellar floor, something rather evil.
On arrival, one of the girls is encouraged to play a practical joke on the others, by her close male friend, so scrambles into the cabin through a back window whilst the others are trying to pick the front door’s lock. Why they didn’t just go around the building themselves, testing all the windows, in the first place is beyond me! Anyway, she ends up noticing that there’s a trap door in the floor, somewhat like the one in The Evil Dead and instead of hiding in a cupboard or under the bed like most normal people would do she decides to hide down in the spooky basement. Wrong move! It’s not long before she has encountered what looks like a cross between a troll and a zombie, a thing which has the nasty capability of being able to suck out the souls of people who look at it straight in the eyes.
Once she’s gone through a period of transformation and started to attack and injure her companions then we’re definitely in Evil Dead territory with anyone who is bitten or scratched or who gets infected blood splashed on them being similarly infected with the soulless curse, which transforms them into flesh and soul eating demonic things. Hmm, that sounds a little like something that’s closer to reality… step forward Mr Ebola! What then follows are lots of scrambling around, in-fighting, and demon things getting stabbed, shot or chopped up.
There’s nothing really original about Wither, since it’s obvious that it’s a Scandinavian homage to the original Evil Dead, but what really lets it down is the fact that it takes itself so seriously. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that it should be tongue-in-cheek or post-modern, but there’s just no humour in there to help lighten the pay-load so the whole thing feels a bit too po-faced and overly worthy. It also doesn’t help that we never really get to know any of the characters – with the exception of the first couple we meet, everyone else just meets up at the rendezvous point and off they go on their holidays with very little preamble to the horrors to come. This is cool in some ways, but I didn’t care about any of the characters, and some of them were not very pleasant anyway, hence I didn’t really want to invest any emotional attachment in them.
However, it’s not all negative – I did, after all, quite enjoy the film. The film is well shot, apart from some annoying overly shaky-cam shots; it’s reasonably well acted; the gore effects were very good, for the most part (I really liked the homage to Cannibal Apocalypse and the gun shot scene, leaving a hole through the body), and I enjoyed the general mayhem, particularly the scene where one of the infected just throws himself down some stairs in order to prevent our heroes escaping at the bottom!
Sadly the film kind of lacks tension and I think much of this is due to the music score, which, while not awful, doesn’t really do the film any favours and is a little ‘flat’ at times. The music needed to have given the visuals more forward momentum, particularly in the latter half of the film when the action is getting ramped up, bit by bit. Sadly, the music doesn’t really do this and the film suffers as a whole because of this lack of energy. I don’t think it helps either that the film’s narrative stops and starts a fair bit too, with characters stopping to ponder what’s happening to them a little too often.
Overall, I’d say that Wither is a decent enough gore flick, with a nicely realised ‘thing in the cellar’, but it really doesn’t do enough with this more original element; I would have liked to have found out a bit more about this creature – I felt the filmmakers could have better differentiated themselves from The Evil Dead by making their creation, and its knock on effects, a bit more distinctive than any number of other Evil Dead wannabes. Perhaps the survivor from the first family could have stuck around a bit longer to impart a little more background to the mythical creature… just a thought.
Wither has fairly recently been released by Signature Entertainment. There were no extras on the review disc.