As well as the horror theme, various parts also have pure humour elements, and it is considered a horror/comedy by some newspapers that rated it. The film takes place in a small town in northern Sweden during midwinter, making the environment perfect for vampires—because there are no sunny hours during the dark and cold Nordic winter days. The vampire clan originate from Ukraine, where Swedish volunteers serving with an SS regiment are attacked by vampires and bring the plague of vampirism home, where an SS officer is later the head of the clan.
During World War II in Ukraine, 1944, the remnants of 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking are fleeing from The Red Army. Using the protection of the woods and the dark, a platoon partly made up of Swedes escapes the massacre. They seek shelter in an abandoned cabin, but as darkness falls they are attacked by vampires inhabiting a hidden crypt under the cabin.
In present-day Sweden, doctor Annika and her teenage daughter Saga are moving to a town in Lappland, so Annika can work close to the famous Swedish geneticist Gerhard Beckert. Since Lappland is located above the Arctic Circle, the polar night has begun. With one month until dawn, there are only a few hours of sunless twilight each day before complete darkness, much to Saga's dismay.
Saga finds a friend in the enigmatic gothgirl Vega, who invites her to a party to be held in few days at her friend John's house. Saga decides to go, having nothing better to do. As Annika starts to work at the hospital, she meets the lousy medical student Sebastian, who has been stealing a can of strange pills with which Beckert has been treating a comatose patient. Sebastian thinks the pills are drugs and tries them. But rather than getting high, he starts to develop acute hearing and improved vision, and is tormented by extreme thirst. Vega shows up at Sebastian's house to pick up the drugs he promised her for John's party. Sebastian tells her he has forgotten to get them, but Vega thinks he is holding out (that is, doesn't want to share them). Sebastian rushes away to his girlfriend Cornelia's house to have dinner with her and her parents. Vega finds the can and steals it, bringing it to John. John, Vega and their closest circuit of friends devour them.
Unbeknownst to everyone, Beckert is the last survivor of the massacred platoon who after a showdown in the cabin was left the only survivor together with a child vampire named Maria. Beckert brought Maria to northern Sweden with the good intention to create a cure for vampirism, but eventually his greed and Nazi beliefs got the best of him and he changed direction to create a new species. A comatose vampire secretly experimented on by Beckert bites Annika and Beckert tries to kill her to cover it up. Annika resists and liberates Maria who Beckert has held captive to milk her of vampire blood. Beckert responds by turning into a horrifying creature and chase Annika through the mostly abandoned town hospital. Saga arrives at John's house and soon all hell breaks out when John turns into a vampire - the pills being capsules containing the vampiric blood of Maria enhanced by Beckert - and rampages through the house killing or infecting several party guests. This coincides with several teens succumbing to vampirism, the pills have ended up in the punch. All the guests end up dead or a vampire; either from the pills or bites with Saga being the only one left alive, trapped in the eye of the Storm.
Following several surreal scenes of carnage and mayhem blurring the lines between horror and comedy the film ends on a dark note with Annika managing to kill Beckert but succumbing to her own vampirism. She picks up Saga (who has escaped a relentless attack from John and killed off Vega by impaling her on a garden gnome) and under Maria's influence she drives further down south to spread the plague of vampires across Sweden. Meanwhile, the new generation of anarchist vampires led by John overruns Norrland. The local police try to fight back but end up surrounded by the vampiric teens as John taunts them by uttering his somewhat iconic line: Don't worry. This will be over any minute. Dawn is... just a month away!
The first draft of Frostbiten was finished in 1998. Ander Banke and Magnus Paulsson had been trying to make a Swedish horror film for years but with little success, until a script by Daniel Ojanlatva was sent to them about vampires showing up in Norrland. Daniel Ojanlatva had grown up in Norrland and thought it was just right to add vampires. Originally the film was set to be a Pulp Fiction-style movie with several stories and characters who went in and out of them. It was going to be called Something Wicked this Way Comes. Pidde Andersson joined the crew and did some work on the dialog and suggested the new title Frostbiten. The movie was mostly shot in Kalix in the winter of 2005 and the board scenes were shot in the Ystad Studios. Anthony Lledo, who had worked with Anders Banke before, was selected to write the score. The producers drew inspiration from vampire films such as The Lost Boys, Fright Night, The Fearless Vampire Killers and Peter Jackson's Bad Taste.
Petra Nielsen was cast as Annika; she was always Banke's first choice for the part. Grete Havensköld, who had starred in Astrid Lindgren films as a child, was cast as Annika's daughter Saga. Per Löfberg had been in the hit romcom Ha ett underbart liv and in the cult film Evil Ed and was cast in a then-secret role, and Carl-Åke Eriksson had played small parts in several films and television series was cast as the professor. Most of the cast were selected in open auditions.
The producers had trouble finding a Swedish distributor for their film, until Paramount took over the DVD sales after seeing only the 20 first minutes of the film.
In the promotion, mostly through the now defunct Beckert website, moviegoers were deceived that Gerhard Beckert would be the "Abraham van Helsing" of the film.
Frostbiten was the most special-effects-heavy film ever made in Sweden at that time, and two companies were employed to handle them. Swedish effect company Fido Film and Ulitka Post, the same team who did special effects for Night Watch. The special effects were delayed as several of the animators were employed for Peter Jackson's King Kong. Ulitka Post created the opening title, removed wires and created the long, physically impossible take in the cabin scene. Fido Film and Kaj Steveman did all the creature design, created the different vampires, animated the talking mouths on the dogs and created the knife stabbings. CGI and practical effects were heavily mixed. The hideous supervampire that appears at the end was played by actor Kristian Pehrsson wearing a full body suit. The suit took over 6 weeks to make and Pehrsson was unable to defecate and to sit down while wearing it. His ears were glued tightly to his head and every inch of his body was covered in the tight foam latex suit. Over 300 fx shots are in the film, which was the Swedish record until Kenny Begins beat the record. Frostbite is currently the second most effects heavy Swedish film of all time.
The music was composed by Anthony Lledo, conducted by Allan Wilson and performed by the Slovak National Symphony Orchestra who later carried on their Swedish vampire legacy by performing the score of Let the Right One In. An album featuring much of the score is available on iTunes Store. The score was very well received by critics. Rue Morgue called it one of the most stirring horror soundtracks in recent years.
Missing from the album is Tyomnaja Notch by Leonid Utyosov that is played over the opening credits. The name of the song means "Dark Night". Other than the score the soundtrack is mostly made up of Swedish pop- and rock-music, among those Millencolin, Luleå hardcore punk band Raised Fist, Langhorns, Quit Your Dayjob, Son Kite and then newcomers BWO. Diabolic Scheme by The Hives is played over the closing credits.
- "War" 1:23
- "Ukraine" 1944 0:53
- "Abandoned Cabin" 1:34
- "The Vampire" 2:08
- "The Coffin" 3:35
- "Saga" 0:31
- "Stake Through The Heart" 0:48
- "Talking Dog / The Kitchen" 2:03
- "Rufus, Lord Of Evil" 0:30
- "Beckert's Story" 4:48
- "Sebastian's Transformation" 1:46
- "Lamppost Lunch" 0:42
- "You Are One of Us" 1:39
- "They're All Dead / John Attacks" 1:43
- "The Hunt" 2:19
- "There You Are..." 0:56
- "Like An X" 0:41
- "Annika Stabs Beckert" 0:42
- "Hit The Lights" 0:57
- "Get The Hell Out Of Here" 0:41
- "Maria" 0:45
- "Frostbite Trailer" 1:01
The film opened at Gothenburg Film Festival on February 3, 2006. At the Cannes Film Festival, the movie was applauded, and sold for distribution to over 40 countries. According to the producers, and to director Anders Banke, Frostbiten became the first horror movie ever to be screened in North Korea. The movie was a big hit in Russia and launched Anders Banke's career in the Russian film industry.
In Sweden the film was met with mediocre to negative reviews, with a few exceptions. The movie had average success at the box office in Sweden and seemed to be a failure. After Cannes, Frostbiten was by far the most popular Swedish movie on the foreign markets that year.
Svensk Dagbladet gave the film a 3/6 score and praise the cinematography and special effects. Aftonbladet gave it a 3/5 score, calling it an enjoyable horror film. Expressen panned the film, calling it "a meaningless splatterfilm". Swedish film site Moviemix gave the film a 5/6, but said the film did not deliver the splatter climax he wanted at the end. A reviewer for the site Film Threat wrote, "Ever since Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Scream infiltrated the fear-film genre, something's been rotten in Transylvania. Playing horror for winking insider references and juvenile giggles, any real juice has been extracted from the cutting-edge school of cinema that spawned Re-Animator, Dead Alive, and Evil Dead, three brilliant examples of horror that combined ferocious splatter with truly inspired humor. In comparison, Frostbite is too little, too late." Göteborgs Posten gave the film another 3/5 score. as did Cinema and complained over the lack of a true character to the film. Film Forum on the other hand gave it a 4/5 score and cited it as a fresh.
IGN gave it a 7 out of 10 score and said that, despite its shortcomings, it was very entertaining. The reviewer also pointed out that the setting was perfect and commented that the Swedish landscapes provided a wonderful backdrop for the movie's dark subject matter and that it looked beautiful in a very gruesome kind of way.
The reception was better internationally; Bloody Disgusting gave the film 4/5, calling it a masterpiece, saying that the film had a strong cast, great special effects and the film the most enjoyable vampire film since the 80s, filling in: "The way the screenplay is written is fantastic, as you can see above the film has many plants that grow and flourish into one hell of a film". The horror site Eatmybrains.com gave it 4/5 stars and comments: "Banke’s film exhibits a laid back, droll sensibility perfectly in keeping with its national temperament, and has a unique deadpan sense of the comedic that perfectly complements the material without cheapening it". Film4 gave the film 3.5/5, saying that the wartime neutrality of Sweden theme and anxieties about migration (Becket dishonestly sneaking into Sweden and creating a master race) made the reviewer uncomfortable and it took away some of the fun.
Most critics praised Emma Åberg's performance as Vega, saying that she stole every scene she was in. Jonas Karlström also received praise for his part as the unfortunate intern Sebastian and mentioned the scene where the newly vampiric Sebastian meet Cornelia's priest father and is served garlic-braised trout as one of the film's strongest and funniest moments.
Frostbiten won the best film award at Fantasporto and collected the several awards at Screamfest.
Snarkerati ranked this Frostbite as the 43rd best vampire film based on critic rating statistics and on December 26, 2012 IMDB listed Frostbite as the fourth most popular Swedish horror title.
The title is an obvious play on frostbite, because the movie takes place in a frozen environment and has vampires who bite people in it. The original title was Something Wicked This Way Comes (a phrase from William Shakespeare's Macbeth and also the title of Ray Bradbury's 1962 novel and its 1983 film adaptation). The producers liked the title Frostbiten more since it was more international, and by just cutting the last letter they had an English title. Teasers and trailers on film festivals therefore wore the name Frostbite. However, it was only called Frostbite in the United Kingdom. In the United States the movie is called Frostbitten, the exact translation of the original title.October 21, 2006 Canada
December 15, 2006 UK
Frostbiten is Sweden's first vampire movie (unless you consider Ingmar Bergman's Hour of the Wolf to count).
In an analysis of Swedish genre films such as Storm (2005; Swedish title: Tempestade) and Kenny Begins (2009) by Dan Sjöström, Frosbite is discussed in detail. He describes the vampires of Frostbite as representing several different types appearing in the genre; Beckert is in one way the stereotypical mad scientist, but is also a loner vampire in the style of Nosferatu, residing in his castle (in this case the rundown town hospital). He describes the teen vampires as a more sadistic and brutal breed of the undead, an anarchist and aggressive pack straight out of The Lost Boys.
Sjöström notes that, rather than joking away the horror, horror and comedy are wrapped tightly together, as in the scene where Saga walks into the aftermath of the bloodbath and encounters John, who laughs grimly at her with a helium voice, or as in the film's infamous "gnome-scene".
He lays weight on the fact that, while following traditional vampire mythology closely, the film puts it into context with modern Sweden. In the spirit of Swedish secularism, the priest role in the film is reduced. He argues that if the film had been made in a more religious country, the priest would have been a main character, who would have provided information about the vampires and lead the fight against them. Instead, the teens know everything about vampires and are just surprised that they are real, rather than confused what to do. The filmmakers trust that the audience, much like the teens, know about vampires, so that information on how to fight vampires is obsolete.
Sarah Clyne Sundberg of Sweden.se suggested that the film possibly reflected unprocessed Swedish war guilt. She also mentioned that the film had some great visual and verbal puns and described it as good old-fashioned gore fest. Film4 read the film in a similar way, stating: (B)uried somewhere amidst the monstrous transformations and belly laughs is an uncomfortable critique of Sweden's much-vaunted wartime neutrality, and her current anxieties about immigration. For this is the tale of a Nazi soldier finding refuge in Sweden with surprising ease, and continuing unchecked in a eugenics programme of his own (with bloodsuckers as the new master race) - and the locals either fail to notice what's happening in their midst or else fall in line with alarming gusto.
Frostbite is analysed along with Let the Right One In in the book New Vampire Cinema.Best Film Fantasporto 2006
Best Score Screamfest Horror Film Festival 2006
Best Makeup Screamfest Horror Film Festival 2006
Best Special Effects Screamfest Horror Film Festival 2006
Special Mention Cinénygma Intl Film Festival 2006
Special Mention for Special Effects Ravenna Nightmare Film Fest 2006
Frostbite was not nominated for any Guldbagge Award. However, awards for best visual effects, make-up and music had not been introduced in 2006.