Wither (Vittra) (DVD)
Artsploitation Films / 2012 / 95 min. / NR
WITHER has been touted as Sweden's homage to THE EVIL DEAD, and that does about sum the picture up. While there is no Necronomicon or chainsaw wielding Bruce Campbell to be found, we do have a group of young people (seven this time!) heading off to a remote and disused cabin in the woods for a weekend of partying.
Before happy couple Ida (Lisa Henni) and Albin (Patrik Almkvist) and their five friends can get into the locked cabin, one of the friends discovers an underground basement/tunnel and meets the titular creature from folklore, the Vittra. Vittra generally will leave humans alone as long as we respect them but someone decided to build the cabin right over the Vittra's home and the noisy kids these days have no respect (or knowledge) of the creature. So in no time flat the friends are getting blackened and blood-shot eyes and spitting bloody bile at each other. They do the right thing and call the police, but it takes a looooong time for the police to find the cabin. So long that by the time they get there, there might not be anyone left to rescue.
I went into WITHER knowing nothing about it other than the EVIL DEAD reference on the back of the box. I had no expectations or pre-conceived notions which was a good thing. While WITHER is a very by-the-numbers EVIL DEAD knock-off, I found it quite enjoyable. There is absolutely nothing new to be found here (writers and co-directors Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund could certainly have gone into the legend of the Vittra a whole lot more) but what is here is very well done. The fresh meat... err.. cast is likeable enough but a bit on the interchangeable side (there were several times the person I was watching this with and I were asking each other who a character was), but no more than in a FRIDAY THE 13th film.
Where WITHER does excel is in the special effects. There are several excellent practical effects that are as gory and creatively achieved as anything in a film with a far bigger budget. The Vittra creature is mostly left in the darkness leaving the kids to kill each other for most of the film, but the few instances we do get a good look at it is very rewarding. The full body suit manages to be extremely textural (dirt and earthy ash while also having a gooey side) and realistic making one wish the Vittra had a more active role in the lethal shenanigans.
The movie may have gotten by on charm and good gore effects, but the transfer certainly doesn't. The anamorphic 2.35 picture has numerous problems going back to the source print used. Light scratches pop up several times throughout the film. They are light and don't stay for very long but they certainly are distracting. Black levels frequently crush any detail and they more often than not have a bright/polarized look to them. Colors are stable though but never pop (this actually works to the films' advantage) and detail is moderate though certainly not razor sharp.
On the flip side, the Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtrack is active and fairly immersive. While directional effects are put to good use, the strength of this mix is ambience giving the locations our heroes visit a nicely claustrophobic feel.
The main supplement is the half hour "Making WITHER" featurette. It isn't so much a documentary as it is B-roll and random behind-the-scenes footage strung together. Every once in a while someone will address the screen and tell us what is going on but this is more of a fly-on-the-wall type featurette.
The "Deleted Scene" is actually a rather elaborate and not quite complete alternate ending. Missing footage is filled in with storyboards. While not as satisfying as what was eventually used, it is certainly worth checking out.
The film's original theatrical trailer and trailers to other Artsploitation releases round out the goodies.
No, there is nothing new to be found in WITHER but what is here is very well done. Excellent special effects and a great looking monster make it definitely worth a rental.