This review of the Netflix film Viking Wolf contains no spoilers. While we're only a couple of months into the new year, it's already looking like 2023 will be the year of the wolf, or more specifically, werewolves.
After the release of Teen Wolf: The Movie in January and Wolf Pack in February (both featuring Sarah Michelle Gellar, the show's iconic slayer), the Norwegians have now created their own interpretation of the half-human half-wolf story with the release of Viking Wolf.
Incorporating elements of millennia-old Norse legend, director Stig Svendsen's picture presents a much gloomier perspective on werewolf lore than any of the other titles released so far this year.
Viking Wolf Recap
A Viking chieftain named Gudbrand the Grim set sail for Normandy in 1050, as recounted by Viking Wolf. He brought along 20 ships. They found a hidden room while looting an abbey there and entered it over the protests of the monks.
They brought the vicious little dog-like monster they found inside all the way back to Norway. The Vikings suffered the price for failing to recognize that they had released a hound from Hell.
As the ship grounded in the Nordic woods, the beast slaughtered everyone on board and made its way inland. The story then jumps to the current day, where we meet Thale, an ordinary seventeen-year-old who lives with her mother (a police chief), stepfather (a retired judge), and sister (who is deaf).
She and her fellow students are exploring the woods when she sees an animal attack. Thale is bitten by the monster, and another girl is abducted. Liv arrives shortly after the police have taken control of the situation.
As Chief of Police, she naturally begins looking into the attack's motives and eventually learns about the ancient werewolf myth. Over the course of this time, Thale begins to undergo potentially harmful modifications.
Viking Wolf Review
Unfortunately, Elli Rhiannon Müller Osborne's portrayal as Thale in Viking Wolf falls short of expectations. While she shone in a previous Netflix original, Royalteen, her performance here falls flat.
Her acting is wooden, & she doesn't do a good job of conveying Thale's trials and tribulations. One of the film's best turns comes from Liv Mjönes as Liv Berg. She uses her police chief character's abilities to her advantage & guides the story into engaging new territory.
The film's supporting cast is mostly wasted and forgotten. The visuals in Viking Wolf are stunning. The beautiful Nordic landscapes are expertly depicted, and the use of subdued colors creates a foreboding vibe.
This new angle on the lycanthrope phenomenon is made possible by linking the werewolf legends to Viking history. It's also unusual because the monster isn't humanoid in appearance. Although the technique may be met with differing opinions, it is novel all the same.
The metamorphosis is a high point of the movie. The transformation of Thale into the terrifying beast is handled with precision and visual impact. The story's twists and turns are extremely mundane.
Despite some new twists, the werewolf legend nevertheless suffers from the same tired clichés. Bite transformations, silver as the beast's primary vulnerability, and other elements take the story in a too simplistic direction.
There are a lot of narrative points that are set up but never developed. The development of Thale and Liv's relationship provides zero satisfaction. Reconciliation between them would have been satisfying after their argument.
In addition, we just get a few lines of backstory into their lives. It's also a little comical that the police officer in charge of the phantom wolf inquiry had no idea that her daughter could be in danger until the very end.
Especially considering we now know she was bitten. While the metamorphosis from human to werewolf is magnificent to behold, every following sequence involving the huge CGI wolf becomes a nuisance.
The effects are subpar and pull you out of the action. The movie could have benefited from being longer, having more constant pacing, and devoting more time to its characters rather than the tired werewolf mystery.