In this special feature for Halloween, we speak to a variety of people in our Nordic Watchlist network to hear about their favourite Nordic horror movies, and we give our top picks too!
Erlingur Óttar Thoroddsen
Director of Rift
It’s very hard to pick just one favorite Nordic horror film, so I have to cheat a little. My first instinct was to pick Ingmar Bergman’s creepy and surreal Hour of the Wolf, but then I thought I should shout out Ole Bornedal’s ingeniously plotted serial killer horror thriller Nattevagten, which really freaked me out as a kid.
But what has really stuck with me ever since I saw first saw it years ago is Lars Von Trier’s fascinating, genre-bending Riget (The Kingdom). The two-season mini-series features some of the scariest scenes ever filmed in Scandinavia as well as some of the most hilarious. It also has moments that are truly unsettling and unforgettable… especially the ones involving Udo Kier.
If you’ve seen it, you know what I mean. To really get into the Halloween spirit, I suggest watching all of the above over the course of a weekend for some great thrills, chills, and laughs.– Erlingur Óttar Thoroddsen
Director of British horror films Host and the upcoming Dashcam
I love Joachim Trier’s elegant and enigmatic Thelma from 2017 – it’s moving, disturbing, and full of striking images you won’t soon forget.-– Rob Savage
John Ajvide Lindqvist
Author of Let The Right One In
My favourite nordic horror movie is Let the Right One In, but since I might be biased, I´ll mention my number two which is Thelma by Joachim Trier.
It´s a very clever, scary story with great performances from the young actors. It´s psychological horror at its best when you deal with real emotional problems and add a supernatural level making them even more acute.
I also love how the movie is specifically nordic in its way of using our light and our nature in beautiful photography. It´s a simply high-quality horror.– John Ajvide Lindqvist
Director of Koko Di Koko Da
Said simply ‘Sommarens Tolv Manader‘ – which is a Swedish TV movie released in 1988 and translates as ‘12 months of Summer‘
Host of the Icelandic focused podcast Kvikmyndapod
On TV and film, Iceland has developed a reputation as a brilliant creator of Nordic noir. There has however, been a surprising lack of horror in its big screen output although things are rapidly changing!
My choice this Halloween is an adaptation of a novel by one of Iceland’s leading thriller writers, Yrsa Sigurðardottir. I Remember You as directed and adapted by Óskar Thór Axelsson is the crossover film for fans of both murder mysteries and ghost stories.
Combining a police procedural plot with a series of supernatural events, this film hooks with a familiar-sounding story then flips it on its head to become something very different.
Making use of the bleak and isolating landscapes of the Westfjords and classic horror imagery including creepy children and crumbling old buildings, I Remember You deals with themes of isolation, loss, family and religion while crafting a palpable sense of unease and eeriness that is guaranteed to send shivers down your spine.– Rob Watts
I recommend the Icelandic film Rift (Rökkur in Icelandic) by Erlingur Thoroddsen.
A gay horror film with awesome cinematography it’s quite unlike anything else. The remake rights have been bought to Hollywood but I recommend you see the original first. Very atmospheric and very very Nordic.– Lilja Sigurðardóttir
The horror culture in Iceland is next to none for some reason, but I think it might be about to change. I recently saw Lamb by Valdimar Jóhannsson starring Noomi Rapace and Hilmir Snær Guðnason and I would have to pick it seeing as it is one of the most special films I’ve seen.
I wouldn’t go as far as to call it full-on horror because it takes time to develop its story and character, and doesn’t really become terrifying until towards the end – but still what Valdimar & his co-writer Sjón have created is a blend of a character study and a horror-folk tale that I think will become a Classic and be remembered for being daring and original, nothing you’ve ever seen before.
Also I would have to mention and recommend I Remember You by Óskar Þór Axelsson, a really great horror adaptation of a book by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir that was the first Icelandic movie ever to make me jump.Asgeir Sigurdsson
Star of horror Honeydew
One of my all time favorites is Let The Right One In. A psychological horror that touches upon dark sides of humanity and bullying with brilliant young actors in the lead roles!
A new movie that I’m excited to see if Yellowviel Pictures’ (Who also distributed Honeydew) new movie Knocking, by the Swedish director Frida Kempff!
Creator of Nordic Watchlist
My first experience with Nordic horror was the gory comedy Evil Ed. A film one of my friends would force us to watch regularly after getting home from a night in the pub. Then came Tommy Wirkola’s Dead Snow, which totally blew my mind in how crazy it was and particularly gory.
Tommy Wirkola has made a number of movies since, but most recently his film The Trip (titled ‘I Onde Dager’ in Norwegian) with Noomi Rapace and Aksel Hennie, now available on Netflix and it was once again an onslaught of bloody violence and dark comedy.
We have to add two of our favorites that we watched last year and that is Koko-Di Koko-Da which Johannes Nyholm directed. It has many descriptions the best perhaps is Funny Games meets Groundhog Day but in our opinion, you need to watch it to really get a proper feel from the film. It is a horror movie that has a heart beating in it so not only are you going to get traumatized but you will likely shed a tear and a maybe smile too!
Then there is Kasper Juhl’s Moonfire – a film that is more a psychological horror but holy hell Mie Green puts in a terrifying performance as a pair of siblings who go about creating acts of violence to try and cope with their own demons. Kasper Juhl is one to watch and we genuinely can’t wait for his next feature Rotten Flowers!Alex Minnis
That’s our roundup of Nordic horror films – here’s a recap of all the movies mentioned, click the links if you wish to see the trailers:
- Hour of the Wolf (Swedish)
- Nattevagten (Danish)
- The Kingdom (Danish)
- Thelma (Norwegian)
- Let the Right One In (Swedish)
- Sommarens Tolv Manader (Swedish)
- I Remember You (Icelandic)
- Rift (Icelandic)
- Lamb (Icelandic)
- Knocking (Swedish)
- Evil Ed (Swedish)
- Dead Snow (Norwegian)
- The Trip (Norwegian)
- Koko Di Koko Da (Swedish)
- Moonfire (Danish)
What have we missed? What might be your favourite Nordic horror movie? Let us know!
Feature by Alex Minnis