Question; what would the Evil Dead look like if filmed by Swedes? Answer: Wither. But you have to imagine the Evil Dead completely stripped of wit, logic and storyline. (Not that the original had an awful lot of the latter, but Wither makes it look like the complete works of Shakespeare by comparison.) The film’s premise will be familiar to anyone who’s ever watched a horror movie. An assorted bunch of teenagers set out to spend the weekend in an abandoned house in the woods (as you do). They are led by squeaky-clean young couple Albin (Patrick Almkvist) and Ida (Lisa Henni) who spend a lot of time snogging, even in the midst of a raging bloodbath. They’re so annoying you start to hope that something bad will happen to them soon, but annoyingly they last longer than most of their companions.

Everyone settles in to the weekend vacation spot. Luckily, Albin’s Dad is an electrician and has arranged for a supply of juice to be sent to the house (some accomplishment considering he never actually visits the place.) Unlike virtuous Albin and Ida, the other kids, being Swedish, are even more obsessed with copping off with one another, than their American cousins. Within minutes of arrival, people are energetically humping, something that they will pay dearly for, later on.

Now, I know that in these films you are required to stretch your credibility a bit, but these kids keep doing things that nobody in their right mind would EVER do. Repeatedly. Hmm, a trapdoor leading down into a dark cellar? Think I’ll go and investigate. Oh, my friends are turning into monsters all around me, should I run away? Hmm, no it’s raining, I don’t want to get wet. Oh, my companion has turned into a monster and I’ve had to kill her. I’d better spend a very long time digging a grave for her. OK, now I’ve phoned for the police and they’ve told me to meet them out by our cars. But… it’s still raining, so let’s stay in the cabin. Sheesh! (The Swedish police, by the way, should probably sue the film makers for slurring their reputation. Though summoned by phone, quite early in the proceedings and informed that people are being killed, they fail to show up at any point.)

There are some decent special makeup effects here (the movie earns its 18 certificate) but directors, Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund are rather too fond of the depiction of women being mercilessly beaten by men, for comfort. I know people are turning into demons, but it never seems to happen the other way around and some of these scenes are prolonged and feel unpleasantly prurient. Ultimately, Wither is just a thinly veiled excuse to unleash a string of decapitations, amputations and beatings. Most of the budget must have gone on Kensington (or should that be Karlstad?) Gore, with which the weekend retreat is soon liberally redecorated. It’s pretty poor stuff, only to be approached with extreme caution.

1 star

Philip Caveney


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