Frostbite

Frostbite

***1/2

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

In 1944, a group of Germany soldiers are lost in a Ukrainian forest, after surviving a fire fight with the enemy in deep snow. They break into an empty house and shelter there. As the night passes, two of them awake and realise that the house is not empty after all. Their comrades are dead, with their necks violated, as if by wild animals.

Yes, the legacy of the vampyre is like the curse of the plague. It may remain dormant for decades; it may hibernate in a frozen grave; it may shimmer on the edge of imagination, as the spectre of the werewolf does; it may resurrect, famished and fleeting, in a peasant village, where death and poverty is commonplace. Or…

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In a small town in Lapland, during midwinter, when there is no daylight, strange things start to happen at the mental hospital. Annika (Petra Nielsen) and her teenage daughter Saga (Grete Havneskold) have just arrived. Annika is a doctor and Saga is bored. Professor Beckert (Carl-Ake Eriksson), the respected specialist, under whom Annika will work, is treating a comatose patient with large, ruby-coloured pills. It is his secret. No one knows of this medication until one of the interns, the joker Sebastian (Jonas Karlstrom), discovers them in a tin box and swallows one. He begins to change. Cooked food makes him sick. A sarcastic dog talks to him. He can't drink milk, or juice. He craves blood. This is only the beginning. When the professor's pills are handed out at a party, attended by Saga and her new friend Vega (Emma Aberg), murder and mayhem ensue.

There is nothing new under the full moon. Frostbite has the advantage of enthusiasm, naivety and youth. After five years of study at a Moscow film school, Anders Banke made short films, music videos, TV commercials and documentaries. This is his first feature. Daniel Ojanlatva, from Kirma, Lapland, specialises in bizarre stories. This is his first (successful) screenplay.

Although walking in the shadow of ghosts, Banke and Ojanlatva avoid pastiche and references to former horror movies. Frostbite has an energy that rides effortlessly above cliché, despite accepting the rules of the undead - one bite and you're theirs.

The connection between the house in the Ukrainian forest and the suspiciously empty hospital in Lapland is explained in the final reel, not that it matters greatly, because before the sun rises in three weeks, there are pale necks - ah, so many - to be plundered.

Reviewed on: 07 Dec 2006
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Innocent flesh and the long night of a Lapp midwinter brings out the hunger of the undead.
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