Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 15
  • Comedy, Horror
  • 2006
  • 96 mins

Frostbite

Frostbite

Synopsis

Anders Banke's feature debut is also the debut of the undead in Swedish cinema

About

In the popular imagination, Sweden may readily accommodate 1970s pop groups, mobile phones and flat-packed furniture, but vampires are less obviously at home there - which is all part of the surreal fun of Frostbite, in which a sleepy town in the northernmost regions of Sweden finds itself host to an unlikely outbreak of the undead. For like Tremors (1990), Braindead (1992), Undead (2003) and Shaun Of The Dead (2004), Anders Banke's feature debut blends the supernaturally exotic and the mundanely parochial to dark comic effect - as is perfectly crystallised by Frostbite's funniest moment, in which a vampire's attack is thwarted with, of all things, a garden gnome.

Ukraine, 1944. A German panzer division shelters in a snowbound cabin, only to discover that they are sharing it with a family of hungry vampires. Cut to present-day Sweden, and single mother Annika (Nielsen) has just moved to a dull town in Norrbotten for a hospital job where she hopes to work with the reclusive geneticist Professor Beckert (Eriksson). Annika's teenaged daughter Saga (Havnesk├Âld) is unenthusiastic about their new life in the sticks. But when a young man shows up dead in mysterious circumstances, and Beckert's supply of highly experimental drugs accidentally finds its way to a crowded house party, this dead-end town is set to come alive for the long, long nights of the Nordic winter.

Frostbite updates the biting comic sensibility of The Lost Boys (1987) with the sort of sophisticated visual effects that vampire-lovers have come to expect since the Blade trilogy, while allowing its blood to splatter in stylistic crimson against Lappland's pure white snows. Complete with dumb cops, joyriding teens, prankster interns and, yes, talking dogs, it's all very silly, though just about knowing enough to get away with its own more glaring absurdities. Banke at times shows a real flair for direction, especially in some of the film's visual gags - one sequence in particular shows the shadow of an upraised hammer hovering over the head of an unconscious hospital patient (in a clear nod to the menacing expressionism of Murnau's 1922 classic Nosferatu), before pulling back to reveal that the shadow actually belongs to a bunch of flowers.

At other times, however, the film suffers from the same lack of direction as its small-town denizens, with set-pieces seeming to be linked one to the other in a seemingly arbitrary fashion. The fault here lies largely with the screenplay, introducing many dramatis personae, but hardly developing any of them. This is not really a terminal problem for a film that does not pretend to be much more than a sensationalist thrill-ride - but it does mean that Frostbite is more likely to be remembered as a curiosity piece (look, Swedish vampires!) than for its plot, themes and characters.

Which is a pity, for buried somewhere amidst the monstrous transformations and belly laughs is an uncomfortable critique of Sweden's much-vaunted wartime neutrality, and her current anxieties about immigration. For this is the tale of a Nazi soldier finding refuge in Sweden with surprising ease, and continuing unchecked in a eugenics programme of his own (with bloodsuckers as the new master race) - and the locals either fail to notice what's happening in their midst or else fall in line with alarming gusto. And that is where this film's teeth might have been a lot sharper.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Grete Havnesköld, Carl-Åke Eriksson, Petra Nielsen, Mikael Göransson, Niklas Grönberg, Emma T. Åberg, Jonas Karlström
  • Director: Anders Banke
  • Screen Writer: Daniel Ojanlatva, Pidde Andersson
  • Producer: Magnus Paulsson
  • Photographer: Chris Maris
  • Composer: Anthony Lledo

In a nutshell

Frostbite has plenty of bizarre laughs to match its novelty value as Sweden's first vampire movie - but it is somewhat defanged by its own lack of focus.

by Anton Bitel

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4 None Shall Escape

    None Shall Escape

    As the trial to determine whether a former German military officer is guilty of war crimes unfolds , his career is shown through flashback.

    On Film4: 1 Jun 5:25PM

  • Film4 The Sitter

    The Sitter

    Jonah Hill stars as a slacker who's forced to fill in as a babysitter for a night, but the kids he's looking after prove more than he can handle when he takes them on a crime-filled trip through NYC

  • Film4 Bridesmaids

    Comedy Season 2015 on Film4

    Eight nights of contemporary comedy hits, including first plays of Cuban Fury, American Reunion, The Sitter, and the network premiere of 21 & Over, on Film4

  • Film4 Cuban Fury

    Cuban Fury on Film4

    Nick Frost stars as a man who rediscovers his love for salsa when he falls for his beautiful co-worker (Rashida Jones) in this dance-fuelled comedy on Film4

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Film4 enjoys double Cannes success

    Film4-backed films pick up two awards at the Cannes Film Festival... [caption id="attachment_4558" align="alignnone" width="600"] Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz star in The Lobster[/caption] At the

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Hang: the trailer

    Watch the trailer for a new play from Second Coming director Debbie Tucker Green. Film4 are pleased and proud to be working with acclaimed playwright Debbie Tucker Green on her debut feature film Sec

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share