These films may have been some that you have missed. This Norwegian film was not released in the U.S. until 2009. But prior to that, it was a big success in its homeland. Like me, I never heard anything about it when it came out but kept stumbling upon it in recent years and have only heard good things about it. I suggest watching part one and part two back to back, as the second film picks up right where the first one ends. A lot of aspects in these films are very predictable, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that this is a fun slasher thrill ride that is not to be missed.
As far as Norwegian horror goes, it’s slim picking. I feel that it automatically will be compared to Dead Snow, another Norwegian film that was a huge hit here in the States. There are some obvious similarities like being trapped in a wintery/snowy place in the middle of nowhere and well, people getting killed. But besides that, these films are night and day. Dead Snow is a hilarious and blood-soaked take on the zombie genre with walking-dead Nazis. Cold Prey I & II is sprinkled with light humor, but it is grim and falls in the classic slasher genre.
The first film opens informing the audience of numerous people missing over the years in a certain Norwegian mountain- from families, to individuals, to experienced climbers. It seems to have started with the disappearance of a young boy with a birthmark across his left eye. These scenes are shown through slices of quick images, like the slice of a knife. The energy is high and exciting. We are then introduced to our five main characters (two couples and a fifth wheel), revved up on their road trip for their ski adventure. Sure, this is an opening we have seen countless times in horror movies, but the cinematic shots atop the mountain are spectacular and you know this will be something special.
Fifth wheel Morten falls while skiing the slopes, of which no one else is around, and breaks his leg. Like, bone through skin, broken. No one has cellphone service, duh! But the friends spot an abandoned building at the bottom of the hill and decide to take Morten there for help, it being their closest option. One thing I was hoping to see is stark white snow against bright red blood. It is beautiful in a weird way and runs rampant in Dead Snow. They should use the location to their advantage! But the isolation and creepiness of this dilapidated hotel holds its own. Once inside the building, the film takes on a washed-out color effect- an interesting touch that adds to the gritty atmosphere. It’s getting dark outside so the crew decides to stay the night and explore the creepy run-down hotel and that’s when things start to turn sour.
We start to get to know the characters a bit more at this point, something that is too often lacking in horror films. You can tell right away that Jannicke will be our strong heroine (and unfortunately our only survivor). Compared to some of the more ditzy, fun-loving characters, Jannicke is thoughtful and serious. The second half of the film is just a massacre as the friends fight, or die, by the hands of an unknown killer. The first awareness of a killer in the old building makes me think there is a little inspiration from the movie, Scream – shooting past the screen in a dash, masqueraded all in black, wielding his murder weapon of choice, coupled with shrieking sound effects and composed murders. It is not as bloody as I thought it would be, but it certainly has some disturbing parts. The ending is kind of predictable but it still manages to create an atmosphere of high anxiety.
The second film picks up right where the first one left us hanging (literally). Jannicke is found, frozen and in a shocked state, having lost all her friends and fighting for her life. She is taken to a hospital that is on the verge of shutting down. Does this sound like Halloween II or what?!? She tells her story to the police who find it all very skeptical, until they discover all the bodies, including the killer. If you haven’t seen the first film, this one does a great job of filling you in on the story. Like Halloween II, the entire film takes place in the hospital, which is always an eerie setting in my opinion.
In the morgue, Jannicke identifies all of her fallen comrades, including the man who killed them all, in an emotional and rage-full breakdown. Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, who plays Jannicke, is obviously a very talented actress. But one issue I had, as with the first film, was wishing it took more advantage of the location. I think about the morgue scenes in Nightwatch (1997), and how bone-chilling it was, and wish I felt the same with this one.
This film takes the path most taken, rather than veering in any untraditional or new direction. It doesn’t excite me as much as I thought it would but I will give it credit for some pretty cool death scenes. As with most sequels, we get a higher body count in this one than in the first one; a nice bonus for sure. I was hoping to get more of a back story on our killer in this one, but when more information was revealed, it stopped as quickly as it started; like dangling a bone in front of a dog and taking it away.
Both films are a little uninspired and expected as far as the plot goes. But where it lacks, it excels in other places. The characters are not vapid and show some depth to varying degrees. As the audience, if you are invested in your characters, the more likely you are to be shocked when something bad happens to them. I like both films equally. There is a Cold Prey 3 that I have not seen yet. But I am not jumping to see that one quite yet since it has a lower rating and only seems to be loosely based on the first two. Both movies are actually scary and leave you gripping your seat. As long as you don’t expect something fresh and new, these high impact and moody films certainly satisfy.
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