Why not get a little spooky this weekend and head over to the town of Akranes for Iceland’s very own horror film festival, Frostbiter? Enjoying its third year, this kitsch festival celebrates everything spine-chilling–featuring Icelandic and international horror movies and generally promoting the overall creepy side of Iceland.
Much of the Icelandic countryside can be described as harsh and barren; nights in the winter are dark and haunted by silence, and the unique alien landscapes give Iceland an otherworldly nature. Ants don’t even survive here. That’s scary.
Iceland has a rich tradition of ghost stories, and many parts of the country are well-known to be haunted. It’s arguably these characteristics that have contributed to the success of such sinister Nordic Noir shows such as Trapped (‘Ófærð’ in Icelandic).
It may come as a surprise that despite these qualities, there is a certain absence in the Icelandic horror film scene. Frostbiter aims to abolish that and brings together horror lovers and makers to embrace the supernatural side of things and encourage creepy creativity.
The festival spans the whole weekend, starting the 23rd of November in the town of Akranes which is only a 45-minute drive from Iceland’s capital Reykjavík. In good weather, you can actually make out the town of 7000 people from the Reykjavík harbour as well as the lights at night, twinkling across Faxaflói bay.
Although one of the bigger towns in Iceland, Akranes’ location in the countryside adds to the effect of the festival and the small town feel of the place lends to the imagination. All of the events are free, and all of the films are either in English or with English subtitles, leaving the horror genre fans among you no excuse not to attend.
Frostbiter’s debut festival in 2015 was the love-child of married couple Lovísa Lára Halldórsdóttir and Ársæll Rafn Erlingsson. Since then, the eerie revelry has returned annually to showcase everything from gore to artsy, painfully low budget to cult classics which, in fact, often go hand in hand!
It won’t be completely niche, the festival embraces all things horror as well as the big names, and there is something for everyone. If you consider yourself quite the horror buff, there is also a pub quiz for you to show off all of your slasher skills and murderous memory.
The festival kicks off on Friday evening at the music school, Tónberg (which could be translated to ‘Music Mountain’) with an opening ceremony and meet-and-greet, followed by shorts, a pub quiz and a party that will go well into the night.
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Saturday carries the bulk of the action. Starting at hangover-friendly midday with ‘Creatures and Curses’: a series of international shorts to warm you up for a day full of film. Icelandic director Ólöf Birna Torfadóttir invites you in the afternoon for an introduction to some of her work which includes the whimsically named ‘I Draw Inside a Sheep’. The evening ends with a showing of the 1960’s original Little Shop of Horrors in a bowling alley.
Sunday, you have the opportunity to listen live to one of Iceland’s most cherished and well-known celebrities and queer icon, Páll Óskar. A veteran of the genre, the 1997 Icelandic Eurovision star will showcase his favourite low budget horror movies, all on an old-school Super 8 projector for extra authentic, awesome awfulness.
Frostbiter rounds up with an awards ceremony to celebrate the cream of the crop and toast to future endeavours to enrich the eclectic and adventurous genre.
Don’t be restricted to Reykjavík for arts and culture, make your way across the bay and foray into fringe horror films. Check the full schedule here.