Cold Prey

Cold Prey (2006)
Cold Prey: Resurrection (2008)

Warning: this review may contain spoilers, particularly around who lives and who dies...

Cold Prey (its Norwegian title is Fritt Vilt) is described in a DVD cover-blurb as "probably the most perfect slasher movie of all time". How well it meets that glowing promise, I couldn't say—I guess in large part it depends how you define the "slasher" genre—but it was certainly an entertaining entry in the field.

The opening scene shows somebody—a young boy, in this case—running through the snow, fleeing from something, some unseen horror. Needless to say, he does not escape. Next we are introduced to our cast of soon-to-be victims, a group of attractive young people on their way to a snow-boarding holiday. We have an established couple who are very close, and the question of whether or not they should move in together appears to be their only source of disagreement, a new couple who are still testing the waters, and a, well, fifth wheel, a single guy. The two girls are close friends; it was never entirely made clear who the fifth person was friends with. Not that it mattered; these were all pretty close friends, and there was very little personal conflict when everything went wrong.

Of course, they had decided to steer clear of the usual crowded tourist traps, and make for a remote mountain destination—apparently one of the guys had been there before—that required a long hike from the place they parked their car.

This set-up actually reminded me quite a bit—although the details were different—of that other great Norwegian horror film, Dead Snow!

Everything went bad when one of them (Morten) took a tumble and broke his ankle. Too far from the car, too far from the nearest town, they happened upon a deserted old hotel, a ski resort that had been closed 30-odd years ago and left vacant. They broke in, made themselves comfortable, and settled down for the night. The new couple head off into one of the rooms, while the established couple settle down in the lounge to keep their injured friend company. It doesn't take long for the new couple to have their first fight—he wants it, she wants to wait—and for him (Mikal) to storm out, leaving her (Ingunn) alone in the room.

Of course, this is a slasher movie, so it should come as no great surprise to find that there is another tenant—one with severe anger issues—already living in the hotel. With the unerring radar that such guys always seem to possess, he homes in on the lone member of the group and, uh, introduces himself. With a pick-axe.

Next morning, the guy who brought them up here in the first place (Eirik) heads out towards the car—and as he leaves, they are unaware that one of their number is already dead. It doesn't take the remaining three long to find out, but it is actually Eirik who is the next to meet the hotel's tenant.

The three who are left make some terrible discoveries—and the film also allows its sense of humour to show in some of the false reveals that precede their discovery of the blood in Ingunn's room. What follows is a fight for survival as they attempt to evade the killer and escape with their lives, all while held back by Morten's broken ankle. Mikal shows his colours by abandoning them, leaving Morten and the final woman (Jannicke) to fend for themselves.

He doesn't get far.

Finally, Jannicke and Morten decide that they only way they can survive is to take the fight to the killer. It almost would have worked too, except for another unexpected discovery which leads to an act of self-sacrifice and a final, desperate confrontation on the brink of the killer's body-disposal crevasse.

In a nice departure from all too many recent slasher flicks, the killer in Cold Prey is not some super-human, supernatural killing machine who shows up anywhere and everywhere, who keeps coming back from certain death. So, when the movie was finally over, I found myself wondering how, exactly, the sequel was going to manage to put the sole survivor through the ringer one more time.

Of course, much of the answer is in the title: Cold Prey: Resurrection. (Hollywood loves their "resurrection" movies! The title is definitely added for the English version only, the Norwegian title is simply Fritt Vilt II.) When the survivor (Jannicke) is found, she is brought back to a hospital. A nearly empty hospital, due to close down soon, with only three patients and a skeleton staff…

Police investigating her story find the bodies in the crevasse and return them all to the hospital morgue. The lead police officer does some digging through the files and uncovers some backstory on our killer; what he finds (hints that he may in fact be a supernatural killing machine) along with an entirely reasonable chain of events in the hospital and some judicious—if extremely poorly considered—application of medical intervention results in bringing our killer back from the dead with a minimum of suspension of disbelief required.

Needless to say, he is still angry.

More slasher moments follow as he works his way through the few people still in the hospital and ultimately makes his escape. However—in a brilliant move—Jannicke decides she is unable to let him get away with what he has done and, once again, takes the fight to him. The final confrontation is really rather well done!

Another sequel would be turning the killer into something truly inhuman, and I think that would be a mistake. As it happens, the producers apparently agree with me: Cold Prey III (which I don't have—yet) is a prequel!


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