Written by: Matt Molgaard
Directed by: Mikkel Brænne Sandemose
Cast: Pål Sverre Hagen, Nicolai Cleve Broch, Bjørn Sundquist, Sofia Helin
I’m a diehard supporter of the Norwegian horror movement. Believe it or not, it’s not because I’m Norwegian (Italian and Dutch as well), it’s because these guys seem to possess some uncanny understanding of the genre. The first two Cold Prey flicks are amazing, Thale was a unique blast and both Dead Snow pics are just stupid entertaining. These guys have even showcased tremendous ability with the tough-to-master found footage film: Trollhunter is easily one of the 10 greatest handy-cam pieces to ever see release. Yeah, the Nordic folk know how to get it done.
Guess what? Ragnarok is no exception.
I didn’t dig Ragnarok as much as the aforementioned films, but that’s not a knock on the movie so much as a compliment to the other filmmakers and their extraordinary efforts. The truth is, Mikkel Brænne Sandemose has assembled an entertaining monster movie with likeable characters and a safe but rewarding story. Male lead Sigurd is an archeologist on the hunt for Viking artifacts. He finds something far more menacing than old relics. Waiting for the man and his small entourage (which include his two children, Allan and Elisabeth) is a massive man eating monster that finds comfort in the deep waters as well as dry land. This creature isn’t to be messed with, but this ambitious (and a little flighty, in Sigurd’s case) group are now on its turf, and that just isn’t acceptable.
Did I mention this beast is a man eater? Yeah… I think we covered that base.
Obviously influenced by Steven Spielberg, Ragnarok doesn’t attempt to be as in your face as a Spielberg production, but it’s got the insane visuals and plot points that echo Spielberg’s best. The scenic shots look absolutely stunning, the editing is damn impressive (anticipate some extremely smooth transitions), the acting is refined and the concept is tailor made for those who cherish throwback mega monster movies. The only weaknesses that I detected are what could be called a telegraphed script and some shaky CG in the grandiose exchanges. It’s not that the digital effects are terrible, it’s just that it isn’t easy to make a mythical monster look real, especially when it happens to be a good 60-foot snake/eel/dragon hybrid. And the story, although very predictable is still familiar enough to get behind.
Ragnarok may not be as riveting as the Cold Prey films, or the fantastical Trollhunter, but it’s impressive just the same. Viewers should have no problem digging into some popcorn and aiming their full attention at the tube for an hour and a half. There are more than enough strengths offered up by Ragnarok to please horror fans as well as action and adventure fanatics.