Saturday, 26 March 2016

Cold Prey

Something like Friday The 13th meets The Shining, but quite entertaining, Norwegian slasher Fritt vilt (2006), makes its visceral impact on single (or double–billed with sequel) DVD as, COLD PREY, directed by Roar Uthaug (what a great name!) with plenty of intelligence for renewing or satirising (note: blonde virgin’s fate) familiar subgenre conventions. Snowboarders foolishly climb mountains in mobile–phone dead–zone. A broken leg ends their fun. Two couples plus injured loner take refuge in rundown ski lodge, abandoned since the 1970s. Less irritating or facile than usual stereotypes of comparative American films, these young people nevertheless follow all typical behaviours, with the cast emoting friendship sensitivities in conflict with hormonal thoughtlessness.

After the ‘lost & found’ store is recognised as serial–killer’s trophy room, resourceful Jannicke (Ingrid Bolso Berdal) is tagged for reaching ‘final girl’ status. Tension ratchets up steadily, and the survivors of early attacks portray shock and terror in a convincing fashion. The brutish villain of the piece remains hooded, masked, and eerily silent; a shadowy presence throughout, adding mystery to proceedings without a lot of creative effort, or too much theatrical menace or blatant forewarning of his seemingly random attacks/ chases/ slayings – which are particularly unsettling whenever observed, unwittingly, from the others’ hiding places. “All my friends are dead” goes Turbonegro’s theme song, over end credits, but Mats Stenberg continues the what-to-do-in-Norway-when-you’re-dead narrative in COLD PREY II: RESURRECTION, which sees heroine Jan rescued from exposure on frozen high roads and waking up, uncomfortably numb at first, in a skeleton–staffed hospital that’s due for closure.

Local sheriffs act on distressed Jan’s report, investigating the hotel, hauling five bodies from a crevasse to the mortuary, and struggling to make sense of lunacy. Power cut. Generators fail, and enfolding darkness accentuates dangers as the nameless killer begins another one–by–one slaughter, with a favourite pickaxe. Having discovered nasty truths about grisly history of a ‘lost’ boy, armed cops arrive, bringing perfectly timed comic–relief moments for the third act’s gunplay–thriller mode. Although never quite as imaginative, or rewarding, as the best slashers, this Norse variation on franchised chillers benefits greatly from excellent cinematography, astute direction of largely untried casts, and strong build–up to satisfyingly vengeful confrontations.
These reviews were first published in BLACK STATIC #11 (June 2009).

A prequel movie, set in the 1980s, Cold Prey III, was produced in 2010.
Also reviewed in that issue of the magazine...

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