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The Dreadful Ten: 10 Scandinavian Fright Films You Should See!

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While the US may be the leading exporter of horror films, it hardly has a corner on the market.  Many other countries have thriving horror film industries. Canada, UK, Australia, Japan, and more all have a fascination for fear which plays out in their native film genres. These horror films sometimes differ greatly in source materials, often taking from local myths and legends that are regionally specific. But where these films may differ thematically, they all share a global love for the macabre.

Perhaps few regions perform as well as Scandinavia. Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark don’t produce a ton of international releases, but the the few horror films they make typically go on to be genre favorites. They often choose to paint a picture of beautifully dark fantasy over all out gorefests… for the most part. Here are 10 recommended terror titles to come out of Scandinavia to date!

 

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10. TROLLHUNTER
TROLLHUNTER is a Norwegian dark fantasy about, you guessed it, trolls. More specifically, a man from the Norwegian government whose job it is to keep the very real troll population under control. The movie is filmed found footage style, as a group of students stumble upon Hans the trollhunter and decide to make a documentary about him and his job. The film itself is well made, featuring interesting characters and a fantastical plot, making it frequent cited among the top entries in the found footage subgenre.

 

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9. WHEN ANIMALS DREAM
For being such a classical horror monster, werewolves really get the shaft in horror. Let’s face it: many werewolf films are horrible. For every DOG SOLDIERS, there are ten DARK WOLFs. Leave it to the Scandinavians, in this case the Danish, to make a single entry into the subgenre and have it be a homerun. WHEN ANIMALS DREAM is a more slowburn, fantastical take on the same theme that is used in GINGER SNAPS: lycanthropy as a metaphor for coming of age. Long story short, it is about a teenage girl who finds she is slowly turning into a werewolf. WHEN ANIMALS DREAM is not a bloody movie about the wolfman eating people. It is a very human story, beautifully made, which is a must-watch for werewolf fans.

 

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8. COLD PREY
Norway tackled the slasher genre and came away with a solid win with COLD PREY. When a group of kids go snowboarding, one of them gets hurt and they all wind up taking refuge in an abandoned hotel in the middle of the snowy wasteland. As the film goes on, the mystery of what transpired at the hotel deepens and, shocker, the hotel is not as abandoned as it at first seemed. With a truly eerie, isolated location, a terrifying killer, and amazing high tension moments, COLD PREY is a terrific example of a slasher film done right.

 

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7. COLD PREY 2
In the aftermath of the first COLD PREY, the surviving girl is taken to a nearby hospital. But so is the killer’s presumed-dead body. Well, you can see where this is going. What comes next is a HALLOWEEN II-esque slasher-in-a-hospital movie which manages to succeed despite its much less original genre scenery. Stay away from COLD PREY 3, though… Very steep drop in quality there. Not every Scandinavian film can be a winner.

 

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6. DEAD SNOW
Nazi Zombies are not exactly the freshest idea. But DEAD SNOW, while hardly one of the first to use the trope, may be one of the best. This Norwegian horror/comedy gorefest has a group of friends in a cabin in the woods and from that alone I am sure you know this is not going to turn out well. True to form, they find some Nazi gold which awakens the dead German troops from their graves to retrieve it. The film is as full of blood as it is laughs and is overall just a very stylish film which has achieved great success worldwide.

 

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5. DEAD SNOW 2: RED VS. DEAD
Where DEAD SNOW was great, DEAD SNOW 2 ups the budget, gore, and laugh factor 10x. Picking up right after the first film, the sole survivor now finds himself with the arm of the lead Nazi zombie attached to his body and the zombies advancing on civilization. It’s up to him, a group of US zombie hunters, and his new powers to stop them. And what better way to stop an army of Nazi zombies? An army of Soviet zombies with a grudge to settle!

 

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4. RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE
Returning once more to the realm of dark fantasy, RARE EXPORTS is a Finnish film which tells an interesting spin on the legend of Santa. Strange things are happening in an isolated town one winter. Following an excavation nearby, something is unearthed. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He is not as jolly as rumor might have you believe, however.

 

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3. WHALE WATCHING MASSACRE
Coming out of Iceland, WHALE WATCHING MASSACRE is a rather tongue-in-cheek take on what would happen if TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE happened on a whaling ship. When a group of whale watchers are lost at sea after their boat sinks, a whale hunting ship picks them up. But the crewmen are not as good-natured as they appear at first. This is a gorefest which excels in its ability to not take itself too seriously.

 

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2. THALE
This dark fantasy-horror from Norway tells the mystifying tale of a couple of crime scene cleaners who discover a woman with a cow tale and the inability to speak. Drawing heavily from Scandinavian folklore, THALE is a beautifully original story. The film is also notable as a true indie success story, as the fantastical film was made on a budget of a mere $10,000.

 

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1. LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
You didn’t really think I was going to forget this one, did you? Despite its numeration on the list, this film could widely be considered the best film here. Why, of those listed, this Swedish vampire yarn is the only film yet to be so successful that Hollywood thought it warranted a remake. This is a story about a bullied boy who befriends a vampire. The dynamic between the characters can only be described as amazing and one can argue this may very well be the best vampire film of the 21st century!

 

About the author
John Lepper
Also known as Johnny Macabre, John Lepper owns and writes for the horror news site TheBlood-Shed.com as well as acts as the East Coast Representative for CryptTV.
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