June 7, 2018 3:09 pm

It’s fair to say that 21st century writers and filmmakers really know how to set us on edge. Whipping up pantheons of terrifying creatures to flesh out books and movies that let us scare ourselves silly, they have an art for the grotesque and the gory, and we lap it up as if we just can’t get enough.   

But the horror genre is nothing new. For thousands upon thousands of years, cultures from all around the world have been fabricating their own fantastical creatures, from the Egyptian demoness Ammit all the way through to the undead strigoi of Romanian legend and Victorian terrors like Frankenstein.

And none were better at it than the Vikings…

A Viking-inspired terror

Source: Pixabay

The Vikings are a people whose legacy is indelibly felt even today. Spawning everything from blockbuster movies and TV shows like DreamWorks‘ How to Train Your Dragon to online games like Vikings Go To Hell, a slot available on Bitcasino, their culture was one enriched by the fantastical tales of its storytellers – tales of myth, legend, and monsters.

It should be little wonder, then, that its oral fables have passed into the mainstream, so that today everyone from schoolchildren to octogenarians know the names and deeds of Thor and Odin, Loki and Freya.

But perhaps a lesser known tale is that of the jötunn, which has now been brought to life in the latest film from Jerry Bruckheimer.

The legend of the jötunn

Source: Roger B Domian via Facebook

Bruckheimer’s film The Ritual is the newest horror offering from Netflix. Following four men who organize a camping trip through Sweden in honor of their dead best friend, it brings to life a truly terrifying animated creation – the fabled jötunn.

The creature itself is a wonder of modern animation: a black, shaggy demon with two terrifyingly human arms on either side of its ‘face’, which it uses to force people to the ground when it desires them to bow to it.

As a cult member in the movie explains: “It is a god. Ancient. One of the jötunn. A pastoral spring of Loki. We do not speak its name.”

But believe us when we say that this is no modern-day terror. Drawing its inspiration from ancient Norse mythology, the jötunn were believed by the Vikings to roam the earth beside them, in the form of powerful deities who controlled nature and the weather.

Norse monsters reimagined

The jötunn are not the first Norse monsters to have found their way into the modern-day mainstream, proving that one could do worse than turn to the savage and fantastical tales of the Vikings for inspiration.

Trolljegeren also adapted old Norwegian tales, to create a terrible tale about trolls, whilst Thelma reimagined Norse legends of witches and magic. Even the Marvel universe has looked to the myth and lore of these long dead people for help in creating its most terrible villains of all.

But what we want to leave you with is not just an interesting tidbit but the strangest of thoughts: that once upon a time, there were people who believed in gods and demons, jötunns and monsters. They walked the earth convinced of their magic – and what a never-ending horror story that must have been…

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This post was written by Nadia Vella