‘The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf Review’: Going Back To The Root Where It All Began

The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf Review

The new animated flick ‘The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf’ is one for avid fans familiar with the original books, the hit games and more recently the highly acclaimed live action show of the same name starring DC heartthrob Henry Cavil.  This animated dark fantasy with its ultraviolet, nudity strewn aesthetic instantly brings the acclaimed series ‘Game of Thrones’ into mind. ‘Nightmare of Wolf’ was developed by Korean animation studio Studio Mir the same geniuses responsible for ‘The Legend of Korra’ and ‘Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts’ and it was produced by Lauren Schmidt Hissrich for the streaming giant Netflix. The film serves as a spinoff of ‘The Witcher’ series which premiered still on Netflix to critical acclaim with the spinoff set to drop on August 23. 

However, despite the live action series centering around the lovably miserable monster hunting character of the infamous Geralt of Rivia, this prequel is more focused on his mentor and fellow Witcher Vesemir voiced by Theo James. Vesemir definitely feels like the complete opposite of his protégé Geralt and is characterized by a charming, playful aura topped with an insatiable hunger for the good things life has to offer.

The flick transitions in between the present and future shining the spotlight on two crucial moments in Vesemir’s life (you can check out how long do Witchers live in our article). Firstly, the movie gives a background on how Vesemir become a Witcher which for those unfamiliar with the franchise, is a term used to describe mutated monster hunters who train since they are kids to kill deadly creatures for money. It’s sort of a profession where one is nurtured and seasoned from a young age with the trainees mainly being abandoned or orphaned boys. 

The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf Review - Vesemir

Essentially Vesemir fled life in servitude with the hope of garnering his own respect by hunting creatures tormenting humans despite being oblivious of the grave realities at Kaer Morhen, the washed-out fortress that served as a grooming ground for aspiring Witchers.

Scenes in the film lay bare exactly how crude and brutal the Witcher training can get and, in a way, explores how different people react to the trauma they encounter in life. In fact, this part gives birth to one of the most memorable dialogues in the entire animation where young Vesemir is having a conversation with his Sensei questioning the brutality of the Witcher training and wonders how many people have been able to survive the numerous torturous trials. A question to which his trainer responds by asking the young boy how many people Witchers are indeed.

The training process is so deadly and cringe-worthy that only the lucky few manage to survive till the end. Many of the Witcher tales are normally based on how these chosen few go through thick and thin and persevere it all to emerge the champions they end up becoming. In ‘Nightmare of the Wolf,’ young lads are forced into battling seemingly impossible challenges including going through a swamp filled with angry beasts ready to devour anything they set their eyes on and being subjected to painful sorcery apparently to magnify their strength and senses. Those who manage to emerge out of the grounds in one piece physically end up gloomy, and miserable, just like Geralt or wear a love for life façade to mask the pain that lies within just like his mentor Vesemir.

Nightmare of the Wolf is packed with plenty of great dialogue with several one liners with the most memorable one amongst others being a 

Secondly this anime highlights Vesemir during his hay days at the peak of his abilities as a professional, slaying monsters like twigs and charges a hefty price for his noble services. However, the monster population is dwindling threatening business to the extent that the hunters feel like they are putting themselves out of business with every creature they slay. In an interesting turn of events, there are claims laid that it’s the Witchers who create the monsters as a money-making tool, so they can keep getting paid and see their mo0nster eradication business flourish.

As these two different points in life come together at some point, they bring forth a very relevant relationship between the Witchers and the very monsters they are trained to devour and zooms on an aspect that has lingered on many fans minds for years, that of the origins between the hunters and the hunted which will likely change how many view both characters in the saga. So to lay it in the open, this flick fills in some mythology blanks in a really compelling manner that will be beneficial to starters who are just venturing into this incredible Witcher world.

netflixs the witcher nightmare of the wolf

So, newbies in the house need not worry too much though as despite the revelations, the move into an animated feature guarantees fluidity when it comes to the action sequences compared to live action versions where the fighting scenes feel difficult and extremely tiring. In Nightmare of the Wolf, Vesemir seems to be having the best time of his life as he effortlessly slices his way through nasty monsters with great ease moves which would be difficult to convincingly pull off in live action. Despite the speed and dynamics though the anime is as macabre as they come packed with spurting blood, decapitated heads and dismembered limbs scattered everywhere which will definitely satisfy the unquenchable thirst for blood from die-hard fans. Unlike Geralt who views being a Witcher as a role, it is a sport for Vesemir who enjoys every single moment of it.

At the end of the day, Nightmare of the Wolf succeeds in capturing the dark fantasy world, the political interest, brutal action, and showcase the well-built macho men aspects which have made The Witcher saga such a fan favorite. These major components enable this anime to easily achieve its goals without spending much time setting up this universe with the assumption that the audience already cares. 

Despite its fun vibes, gory scenes, and plenty of swerving and smooth action, this flick might still feel like additional content meant to whet the appetite of many fans in anticipation of the second season which drops this December.

SCORE: 8/10

  • Robert Milakovic

    Robert, based in Osijek, Croatia, is a co-founder of Incomera, a media company that has launched several entertainment sites including Fiction Horizon, Game Horizon, and Anime Horizon. He's also a co-owner of Comic Basics and Voice Film. Robert's love for all things fictional sta...