Monday, November 11, 2013

WITHER - The Swedish Gore Ensemble Plays the Possessed Body to Burst

I had the chance to review Hidden in the Woods earlier this year, released by Artsploitation Films with American remake on the way. It was grueling and yet watchable with piles of very uncomfortable material packed with blood and violence and sexual assault. While it didn’t contain the “likable” elements from exploitation or rape/revenge movies of old like I Spit on Your Grave, I was surprised to find that I enjoy the brutality. I often look for a very clear cut “rape period” followed by a distinct, all out “revenge period” that can’t be compromised by the rapist at all. If that happens, the movie feels like a success and a victory and sets the correct message. Hidden in the Woods didn’t really have the clear cut distinction but I felt satisfied in my discomfort. I think that’s the sign of a good movie. It allows you to tolerate it while trying to push you out of your comfort zone. So that was Hidden in the Woods. Great movie. Pick it up. I just had the chance to watch Wither, a wholly different movie equally brutal but this time, good fun as well. While Hidden and Wither aren’t related other than the Artsploitation label, the label itself is beginning to show signs of providing a very watchable, entertaining experience form its releases. They seem to have be in the habit of picking up good properties. If you haven’t been paying attention, Wither would be a great time to begin.

Synopsis from Artsploitation Films:

A group of naive young people find their carefree weekend in an isolated country house unhinged when one of them accidentally unleashes a mysterious and murderous creature trapped in the basement. As the demon begins to attack the couples, the blood-dredged body count mounts and with it, more creatures out for a taste of human flesh, freshly killed. The dazed young men and women soon mount their own desperate counter-attack, an attack that includes decapitations, dismemberment, spurting blood, flailing axes and the kind of gore one does associate with Swedish cinema!


Wither is a self-professed homage to Evil Dead. This is abundantly obvious, but perfectly executed, not holding on to Evil Dead as a crutch but rather taking the bits and pieces that make up the basic premise of Evil Dead and turning them on the gored out, disembodied ear. The screen is packed with exciting gore that looks like pure raunch with gallons of drippy, syrupy, beautiful blood sliming the backside of your TV screen. Some of the effects shocked me or made me cringe while others had me holding back a fist pump or two (I was alone… self-fist pumping is a sin, no?).  Wrap that up in a rather aged look with grain and some deterioration digital effects and you have a movie that looks old, feels fresh, not campy and a whole lot of fun. Its best counterpart, other than Evil Dead, is probably, Cabin Fever, but it’s important to note that Wither does take itself seriously. You can actually allow yourself to be scared by Wither with the Bava-esque demonically possessed, infected spreading their curse through blood transmission.

I am unfamiliar with the cast as this is a Swedish movie, but there were no weak links. Everyone played their somewhat stereotypical roles with the proper melodrama or over-reaction. Play the role too serious and nobody has fun and you end up with a bunch of people crying over the loss of the poor, dismembered, possessed characters. Go over the top and you better hope you wrote a funny enough script to support the yucks rather than the gross out. It’s well-balanced though the emphasis isn’t on dialogue or acting, it’s on the makeup, special effects and gore with an emphasis on setting up camera angles to make these visual queues really pop. Brilliant score. As creepy as anything you’ll see on screen and, while traditional at time, moments of dissonance that provided the appropriate level of discomfort.

I strongly urge you to enjoy this 2012 release (though I’m still going to be including it on my 2013 best of list).  Would be filmmakers… check out the making of featurette. When you see how they shot this thing, you’ll feel like you have a chance to make the next great splatter flick with a modest budget, some digital cameras (not necessarily video cameras) and some decent mics. Great post-production.

Pick up Wither and then hop over the Artsploitation to see what other bat shit crazy (or benign, expressionistic works) they have to offer you. I’m impressed and glad to see this player truly finding quality material to offer us.

You can pick up Wither NOW! Gore hounds apply and enjoy (come hungry). We've been watching some of the best horror come out of Scandinavia lately, haven't we?

-Doc Terror

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