Viking Wolf Bites Off More Than It Can Chew

Near the end of May, about a week ahead of the June full moon, Netflix finally added an original horror movie. A Norwegian horror export, Viking Wolf has nothing to do with the acclaimed History Channel series, Vikings. While there’s a quick reference to Vikings, Viking Wolf is in fact a pretty standard werewolf movie. Picked up for distribution by Netflix, this is another under-the-radar horror effort that fans may miss if they don’t scroll through the platform. Only a handful of reviews are available and they’re mixed.


After the death of her father, high school student Thale finds herself at a new school in a new, small Norwegian village. Feeling estranged from her police officer mother and new stepfather, Thale struggles to fit in with her peers. When she joins other students at a bush party, Thale witnesses a brutal attack on one of her peers who body is later found mutilated. All evidence points to an extremely large predator – perhaps a wolf. And a scratch suffered during the attack leaves Thale with a centuries-old curse.

Viking Wolf Abandons an Interesting Idea for a Conventional Werewolf Story

There’s plenty of werewolf movies but Viking Wolf boasts an intriguing opening that promises a different direction. Understandably, period piece movies present challenges for filmmakers, so you can’t fault writer and director Stig Svendsen for quickly shifting to present day. Nonetheless, Svendsen and co-writer Espen Aukan do absolutely nothing with that prologue. Aside from its title and that scene, nothing about the werewolf’s roots matter to the story we get, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just feels like a missed opportunity to take a familiar monster movie narrative in a somewhat fresh direction.

…Svendsen and co-writer Espen Aukan do absolutely nothing with that prologue.

Instead, Viking Wolf does the opposite and opts to tell a very familiar story. If you’ve ever watched any number of werewolf movies, you’ll feel very comfortable with the direction of Viking Wolf. Not only does it follow familiar monster movie beats but Svendsen treads a fine line between homage and imitation. Not surprisingly, Svendson finds inspiration from one of the greatest werewolf movies of all time, An American Werewolf in London. Specifically, a couple of scenes – particularly a downtown rampage – directly recall the 80s classic. But Svendson and Aukan also weave in some references to Jaws.

Viking Wolf Competently Recycles the ‘Greatest Hits’ From Better Werwolf Movies

Though Viking Wolf gets the “lyrics” of the basic werewolf movie, it never gets into the ‘beat’ of better examples from the genre. That is, Svendson throws in plenty of references to past movies, but misses the ‘heart’ of those classics. Maybe Viking Wolf spends too much time cramming in references instead of expanding on any one idea. Thale’s journey after being scratched, for instance, doesn’t explore the female adolescent experience like Ginger Snaps. And emotional turmoil of Liv confronting her werewolf daughter never approaches the final moments of An American Werewolf in London.

…Svendson throws in plenty of references to past movies, but misses the ‘heart’ of those classics.

So Viking Wolf can’t quite escape feeling like a facsimile of much better movies. Yet Svendson is a skilled enough filmmaker to invest some energy into many of the scenes. There’s some good suspense in the initial wolf attack. And later scene on a bus almost catches the manic energy one expects from the setup. In spite of its runtime creeping over 90 minutes, Viking Wolf never feels like its dragging its feet. Some of the effects look quite good. If there’s a problem, it’s Svendson’s choice to overexpose the CGI werewolf in too many scenes.

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Viking Wolf Decent, But Feels Like a Missed Opportunity

After an opening that promises a different twist on the werewolf story, Viking Wolf delivers … a familiar werewolf story. Of course, there’s nothing inherently bad about this Norwegian monster movie. It’s perfectly watchable from start to finish, never overstaying its welcome. It just doesn’t offer anything new often blurring the line between homage and just recycling much better movies. And Svendsen nearly spoils the goodwill earned from some decent monster scenes by overexposing the titular creature. While you may not remember Viking Wolf long after watching it, there are worse horror movies on Netflix.


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I am a Criminology professor in Canada but I've always had a passion for horror films. Over the years I've slowly begun incorporating my interest in the horror genre into my research. After years of saying I wanted to write more about horror I have finally decided to create my own blog where I can share some of my passion and insights into the films I love.

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