For those who appreciate a decent scare, there is no better place to be than Akranes this November. Since 2016, husband and wife team Lovísa Lára Halldórsdóttir and Ársæll Rafn Erlingsson have headed up the Frostbiter Icelandic Horror Film Festival in the west Iceland town Open to both Icelandic and international submissions, the festival has, for the past two years, attracted the country’s most diehard fright fanatics and aims to do it again November 23rd-25th.
Frostbiter is far more than mere film screenings and Q&As. In the past, scheduled events have included seminars focused on killing Nazi zombies—with the makers of ‘Dead Snow 2,’ no less—party screenings of cult classics and even pub quizzes delving into everything from ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ (1984) to the obscure, yet hilarious ‘The Nostril Picker’ (1993).
2018’s line-up will see Iceland’s favourite singer Páll Óskar—a devotee of the genre—screen the ‘70s low budget horror film, ‘Equinox,’ as well as old horror trailers shown on a Super 8 projector.
Not So Niceland
Frostbiter was born out of a perceived lack of attention given to Icelandic horror films, as further international interest in Iceland as a filming location. “When we started the festival there really weren’t many filmmakers in Iceland making horror,” says Lovísa, a longtime filmmaker herself. “We felt that it was a shame, as we have so many horror stories here. Through Viking sagas and folktales we encounter many supernatural creatures; ghosts, elves, trolls and even the Devil himself. The cold harsh scenery should be a great source of inspiration.”
As married couples are subject to do, actor Ársæll Rafn agrees, adding: “Icelanders have a lot of insidious stories and books. But there have not been many creepy movies in this country. It’s not because of a lack of enthusiasm, as there are many horror fans here. But it has been difficult to finance such pictures so far. We want to promote Icelandic filmmakers to take risks and be inspired by filmmakers around the world.”
Brave words for a man who, by his own admission, spent his childhood terrified not only by ghosts but the family-friendly Tim Burton classic, ‘Edward Scissorhands.’
A Nightmare in Akranes
The festival climaxes with an awards ceremony, with prizes for the Best International Short and Best Icelandic Short, as well as for runner-ups in each category. Aside from festival submissions, guests will also have the chance to catch up on some of horror classics such as the original ‘Little Shop of Horrors,’ starring Jack Nicholson, and soak up the creepy ambience of wintertime Akranes.
“It’s important to bring culture to the rest of the country,” says Lovísa, “so that people who live here in Akranes don’t always have to go to Reykjavík for culture. It’s nice to have people come to us and experience all that this town has to offer. The scenery is gorgeous during the day but it can get quite scary at night time, especially during the winter. We thought it would be the perfect venue for this festival.”
Admission is free to all events, and with more visitors and submissions each year, Frostbiter is sure to become a staple of Iceland’s film festival circuit.
Frostbiter 2018 happens from November 23-25th in Akranes. Get further info at frostbiter.is.