Viking Wolf Proves 1 Movie Trend Can Totally Change Horror Movies
Despite having a familiar storyline, Netflix’s Viking Wolf sets an example for future horror films by making good use of a movie trend. To set the stage for its supernatural horror drama, Viking Wolf begins with a prologue set in the backdrop of the Viking invasion of Normandy in 1050. The opening scene shows a fictional tale in which greedy Vikings raid a monastery and discover a feral wolf in a secret room. After they make the mistake of taking the wolf with them, “the hound from hell” not only kills everyone on their ship but also finds its way into the Nordic woods.
After establishing the origins of its titular beast, Viking Wolf jumps to the present day and unfolds like a typical werewolf 1980s horror movie. From teen wolf transformations to gory action scenes where a werewolf wreaks havoc over unsuspecting humans, Viking Wolf has everything viewers would expect from a supernatural thriller. What gives it a unique edge is how it adds a layer of intrigue to its narrative and evokes a viewer’s curiosity with its harrowing quasi-historical opening.
Many horror movies follow the well-worn good vs evil narrative, where the innocent find themselves at odds with malicious forces. Viking Wolf and Dan Trachtenberg’s Prey are no exceptions to this. However, what makes them stand out is their ingenious timeline shift. Instead of solely highlighting the perils and terrifying misadventures of modern society against a malevolent beast, Viking Wolf and Predator movie series’ prequel, Prey, harken back to the past and give a glimpse of how ancient human civilizations would have dealt with a gruesome supernatural threat.
Although Viking Wolf’s primary timeline focuses on the present day, it effectively uses the past as a device to make its central werewolf scarier. Just as Prey adds more heft to Predator’s lore with its time setting shift, Viking Wolf allows viewers to perceive werewolves from a different lens by giving its mythology a Nordic foundation. This, in turn, makes Viking Wolf a lot more memorable than it would have been without the Viking backstory and continues an exciting horror trend.
Beyond Prey and Viking Wolf, many other horror movies like Interview With the Vampire, The Woman in Black, The Conjuring, and Robert Eggers’ The Witch and The Lighthouse have unsurprisingly benefited from period settings. The going-back-in-time formula seems to consistently work so well for horror movies because it adds a semblance of realism that dwells on the primal sense of human fear. For instance, The Witch avoids depicting its titular malevolent force as a pop-culture-appropriate, long-nosed, broomstick-riding woman.
Instead, the Robert Eggers movie grounds its lore in the early history of documented witchcraft, which is far more frightening than the watered-down depiction of witches in modern backdrops. Similarly, Prey brings a creative twist to a familiar story by spinning a whole new historical yarn into everything from the culture and gender of its protagonist, Naru, to the modus operandi she uses against the overpowered Predator. Since so many movies like Prey, The Witch, and Viking Wolf are succeeding by using this new horror movie trend, it is evident that history and its social constructions can be a meaty source of unchartered fear and apprehension in cinematic storytelling.