Maria Smedstad – National horror

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A while ago, we decided to watch a British horror film, set in Sweden. It promised “an ancient, evil Nordic legend”, and I was very excited about being able to keep a running commentary throughout, being fairly at home with Nordic ancient evils. How wrong I was. The film was good, but I was at a complete loss as to what was happening, and even more so when it came to classifying the lead-monster in question. It certainly wasn’t one of the things we were gleefully warned about as kids, and we were gleefully warned about a lot of things.

TEXT & IMAGE: MARIA SMEDSTAD

The film did, however, leave a lingering impression. My sister recently visited from Sweden, and when, one evening, she showed me some photos from a camping trip back home, all I felt was horror. Could she not see how ominous the shadows were between those tall, forbidding spruces? The dark, bottomless lakes that used to appear full of magic wonder now just looked dark and bottomless. And that lonely gravel road next to the fields? Pure Wallander. In my absence, thanks to Nordic Noir and films like the one featuring the unknown Nordic monster, rural Sweden has taken on some much darker associations. My sister couldn’t see it, describing it as ‘jӓttemysigt’ (‘super cosy’) with a raised eyebrow at my unpatriotic silliness.

The following morning, she set off for one of her customary runs, having plotted out a route across the fields and lanes by my house. Returning an hour later, she looked somewhat sweatier than usual. “I’m not doing that again!” she declared in a frightened voice. “I forgot that the whole of the British countryside is just one giant set of Midsomer Murders!

Maria Smedstad moved to the UK from Sweden in 1994. She received a degree in Illustration in 2001, before settling in the capital as a freelance cartoonist, creating the autobiographical cartoon Em. Maria writes a column on the trials and tribulations of life as a Swede in the UK.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Scan Magazine Ltd.’

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