Cold Prey (2006): Norway – Directed by Roar Uthaug
Not rated by the MPAA – contains slasher violence and blood, some swearing
Cold Prey was a hit in Norway a couple years back, and for good reason. It’s a slasher film like many other slasher films, but made with enough aplomb to give Norway cause to rejoice.
The plot is very standard. Basically, a group of young friends go off somewhere, get lost, then start to die at the hands of an unknown killer. In this case there are five friends who go off skiing in some remote mountains in Norway. One of them breaks a leg so they head to a nearby lodge for shelter. Of course, the lodge is abandoned but they manage to break in, get some painkillers for the kid, find some food and alcohol, and start enjoying their night there.
Unfortunately for them (and fortunately for us, as otherwise this would be a very boring film) someone or something else has been living in the closed-up lodge, and starts attacking them. Pretty soon they’re on the run, trying to hide, trying to protect themselves. Then they try to escape by various means, some of which inevitably fail at first.
What sets this apart from other slashers (other than being Norwegian) is how adequately it’s made. The outside shots of the mountains and snow are gorgeous. The interiors are suitably dark when necessary, and warm when the kids are relaxing by the fire. The characters aren’t particularly memorable, although a strong female lead is a bit different from other slasher films. The action is also nicely filmed. Cuts aren’t too fast or crazy; it’s possible to actually tell what’s happening. The people we expect to die first don’t necessarily die first.
It’s well paced, from the opening “let’s introduce the characters” to the bloody slaughter. It’s rather violent, but nothing over-the-top or unexpected. The blood reminded me of Haute Tension; dark and thick though not as copious. The slasher displays no supernatural abilities, like showing up behind an upstairs door when we last saw him in the basement. The villain, in fact, is not overly explained. The film spends a couple minutes setting us up for it, then a brief flashback, but nothing too long or boring. He remains basically anonymous and without any character the whole time.
What does all this mean for fans of horror? Cold Prey is a fun slasher movie, made fun by the fact that it’s not poorly made. The characters, the gore, and the bad guy are all perfectly adequate. The directing is above par, though the soundtrack sometimes seems like a mix between Psycho and Jaws. If you’re a fan of horror films you need to see this, because it is Norway’s first prominent entry into the slasher canon, and it is a very reasonable entry at that.
Originally reviewed at 24Framespersecond.net