Atmosphere: B-. Good attention to detail and beautiful scenery. Stoic and silent Viking portrayal. Effectively (to say the least at times) conveys mood of primary characters to the audience.
Intelligence: C. Has few interesting developments, but then again, doesn’t have high aspirations.
Involvement: D+. It will take some real effort to hang on due to art-house direction and amateur scripting.
What will annoy you:
Blood. Every bit of blood from an impact in this movie is digitally enhanced, and obviously so; in addition it makes positively the wettest sound you will ever hear. It’s a cartoon-like effect that’s badly out of place with the atmosphere.
Mystical Confusion. There are certain primeval fears we all share: being operated upon without our consent, parasite infestations, large predatory eyes and teeth, etc. One of those fears, though not commonly discussed, is suicide of our loved ones. We all have a basic paranoia that someone we know will try to end their own lives and we won’t be able to stop them. Whoever wrote this story is completely obsessed with this idea; at some point, nearly every character catches the fever of lost ambition and wanders off in a stupor to die, and the only one questioning their actions is the moviegoer.
Directing. You know how when you were 14 you thought you could make the greatest movie in the world, never realizing how hackneyed, immature and overbearing it would be? Valhalla Rising is the movie I would have made at 14. It’s an art shoot more than anything else. It’s as if the director said “ok, you guys are really depressed now, so just wander around the area here writhing in your own self-pity and we’ll take all sorts of shots”. The problem is, they appear to have used every single shot they took. Some of these overextended model shoots are unbearably long, others instantly expose the director’s desperate and predictable need to affect you emotionally, and all push far, far past the boundary of suspension of disbelief.
Length. The actual substance of this story, minus the art-house formatting, could be told with feeling in about 10 minutes.