I was able to find some time last week to bang out three new movie reviews, the first three that I had done in quite a while. It’s been so long, in fact, that I had completely forgotten about countless films that I had acquired in recent months. One of these forgotten flicks that I decided to throw on here tonight is Louisa Warren’s Pagan Warrior.
After his family is attacked and his castle taken over by a gang of Vikings, a resurrected King Rollo agrees to summon the Yuletide demon, Krampus, to exact revenge… even if this act comes at a great cost.
I have no idea where this movie came from. The DVD was sitting on my shelf, so it was clearly sent to me sometime within the last couple of months. I read the title and the synopsis and hastily decided that this was the movie that would be getting my attention tonight.
Pagan Warrior is a low-budget film about everyone’s favorite Christmas-time anti-Santa Claus. Writer Shannon Holiday and co-directors Louisa Warren and Nick Minaj (who is mysteriously not credited on IMDb) have decided to take the Yule devil back to his Central European roots, however, leaving Christmas out of it, instead opting to tell the tale during Yule day.
It is 1812 (or is it 812? It stated both years right in the opening credit breakdown of the events taking place) in Sussex, England and a group of Viking warriors have failed time and time again to overthrow Saxon Castle. A new King has been crowned in Rollo (Peter Cosgrove, Little Necro Red), however, and the Vikings once again feel it it their time to strike, this time to much more success.
The squad of Vikings, just as the rest of the characters really, is comprised of actors who I am not familiar with in the slightest. Their performances are all fair enough, with nobody really outshining the rest at any given point. Still, I’ve seen much worse in plenty of independent horror flicks, so sitting through 83 minutes of Pagan Warrior was a walk in the park.
I have been a fan of revenge films for as long as I can remember. One of my favorite aspects of films of this nature is that they are more often than not rooted very deeply in some fashion of reality. Films like I Spit on Your Grave, original, remake trilogy, and sequel alike, or Revenge see such depravity take place against a human being, that they simply snap and find the most brutal ways possible to avenge these actions against them. Pagan Warrior is much different in this regard. The supernatural twist and the period in which it takes place both make this tale that much more interesting, regardless of how flawed the execution may be.
I really wanted to love this film, simply based off of the synopsis, but sadly it didn’t really do much for me. The Vikings are not at all intimidating, their blades are very visibly round/not sharp, and there aren’t very many of them. Given their small number and even smaller stature, I’d think it somewhat easy for the new King and his family to put up more of a fight than they actually did.
When it comes to the real antagonist in Pagan Warrior, the Krampus, himself, I was a bit more impressed. The best part of this 2019 film really is how the Yule devil looks. His make-up and attire are crafted very well with no shoddy CGI in sight. Practical effects go a long way in a horror fan’s eyes, so this touch was a very welcome one for yours truly. Aside from a scene or two in which it looked like poor old Krampus’ horns were literally falling off of his head, he was rather menacing throughout.
Most revenge movies that I’ve encountered over the last couple of decades have been some pretty bloody fare. Now, I am not going to sit here and say that in order to be an effective horror film, you need to have tons of gore on exhibit. We all know that is not the case, but I do happen to think it would have made this one a bit more exciting.
The majority of the bloodshed seen here is flowing from the mouths of various victims, right after a stab… or 20. Additionally, no visible wounds or injuries are shown, even when the demon is chowing down on his newest human happy meal. On the other hand, perhaps it is best that Warren and her team stayed away from the more explicit carnage. Given their shoestring budget, it is probably best they not try to deliver on something that would have come off as cheesy or even more off-putting. Just as we know we don’t need gore to make a good film, we also know how terribly bad gore effects can ruin something, as well.
Pagan Warrior at Home
Pagan Warrior is now available to own on DVD and Digital from ITN Distribution. This Region 1 DVD is not rated and is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen format. It features Dolby Digital stereo audio and even though the DVD case itself claims there are English SDH subtitles available, I did not find that to be the case, unfortunately.
There are no bonus features to speak of other than a trailer for the film itself.
Pagan Warrior has a great premise and a unique story to tell, but a low budget holds it back big time. If you are a fan of period piece horror flicks, enjoy stories involving Krampus, or just want to support indie filmmakers, pick this one up. If you don’t necessarily fall under any of those lists, then you can most likely skip this one and move onto the next film on your list.
I give this one 2 round-tipped sword blades out of 5.