I’ve been watching quite a few slashers from around the world lately and the thing that stands out the most is that very few of them bring anything new to the table. Is there much left that can be done with the genre? I’ve seen a few breaths of life left in the beast with movies like France’s Inside, but even that didn’t so much do anything new as it did just take an unusual element to an uncomfortable extreme.
Despite treading on the same ground that’s been gone over so many times before I enjoyed Cold Prey, Norway’s 2006 entry into the slasher genre. So how does a movie filled with slasher genre clichés manage to distinguish itself from other sloppy retreads of the same old material?
The movie starts out in standard fashion; a group of mostly attractive young folks have decided to skip the crowded ski slopes and head out for more primeval and pristine snowboarding far off the beaten path. Why wait in line for a ski lift when you can have an entire mountain to yourself? Things are going great until Morten Tobias (Rolf Kristian Larsen) falls and breaks his leg.
Out in the middle of nowhere, they decide they need to seek shelter to try to tend to his leg and come across an old abandoned ski lodge/inn. Unfortunately it’s not quite as abandoned as they thought…
Cold Prey scores points in several areas. The cinematography is very good, ranging from tight claustrophobic shots inside the lodge to the sweeping scenery of the spectacular mountains; the movie looks great. The score and soundtrack stand out less but they’re suitable.
The cast is also much more likable than usual for the slasher genre, and they’re given some time to interact and develop before things start to go wrong. Ingrid Bolso Berdal is the standout as de facto group leader Jannicke, and Rolf Kristian Larsen is quite good as the slightly nerdy but amiable Morten Toben. As a whole the acting is a cut above average, and the director and script wisely kill off the weaker links in the cast first.
Cold Prey is not an overly gory movie; don’t go into it expecting a bloodbath. It builds some interest and sympathy for the cast first and then slowly ratchets up the suspense and tension, punctuating the proceedings with moments of violence and fear. There are definitely some parts that may make you jump. The sense of isolation and desperation the group feels as their numbers begin to dwindle is intense. They attempt to escape, go for help, or to reach their car, but the lodge and the mountains are the killer’s domain and they’re very much out of their element.
Originality aside the biggest flaw of the movie may be the killer himself; he’s a bit generic and I would have liked to see him fleshed out a little more. That’s not to say he’s cuddly, and I certainly wouldn’t want to encounter him in a dark, abandoned ski lodge.
Will Cold Prey revolutionize the slasher genre? Hell no. If you’re sick of the genre you can certainly skip it without missing anything. If you want to see a very well-made slasher then by all means check it out.
Cold Prey 2 is listed as being in post-production at the time of this review. I think that’s probably a little too much retread for me.