FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Jul 20, 2011

Film Club: Cold Prey

Once upon a time, Final Girl was all about slasher films. I'd review nothing but slashers, deconstruct slashers, write poems about slashers, write slash fiction about slashers...

Okay, I never wrote poems or slash fiction about slashers, although in hindsight, that seems a big shame. My point is that I was all about slashers because I love them. I don't care that even most horror fans think slasher flicks are on the bottom of the genre totem pole! I don't care that most of them are terrible films and most of my love stems from a childhood nestled in the warm bosom of the genre's heyday! Love is totally blind, except when it's not.

I can't help myself. Along comes a film like Cold Prey (aka Fritt Vilt, 2006), and my love blossoms anew...and I don't even feel like I need to hide my ardor because Cold Prey isn't on the bottom of the totem pole. It's a damn fine horror movie that just happens to be a slasher flick. So there.

The film is full of genre tropes, and seasoned horror fans will likely roll their eyes as they check items off the list know, genre tropes:
  • a group of friends (two couples and the odd man out, natch) head off for a weekend of fun (in this case, snowboarding action)
  • their cell phones can't raise a signal
  • there's a sensible girl (the Final one, natch) and a not-so-sensible girl who makes out in the backseat with her man
  • there's leg trauma when snowboarding action leads to snowboarding accidents for the odd man out
  • the killer has a collection of mementos
  • so on and so on and so on

Cold Prey, however, is all "whatever" about these tropes and turns most of them on their heads, making everything feel as fresh as a snow fall on a Norwegian mountaintop. Most of this oh-so-fresh feeling comes from the characters themselves: though they're not fleshed out with life stories and awkward narrative conversations, they're...solid, if that makes sense. In a shocking twist of events, they're not annoying! They're friends! The not-so-sensible girl is actually totally sensible! The odd man out isn't an irritating prankster! Jannicke, the Final Girl, is one for the record books! For the most part, they act like people would likely act when they realize that the abandoned hotel they're using for shelter isn't completely abandoned...because there's a killer in there.

Even the killer in Cold Prey is a delightful change of pace from the slasher norm. Sure, he's got a backstory (albeit just a tantalizing piece of one), a mask of sorts, and a weapon of choice- the pick axe- but he's not some backwoods mountaintop cannibal. He doesn't torture anyone. He doesn't try to sex up the girls. He doesn't arrange the bodies in some bizarre mise-en-scene for the Final Girl to stumble across, he dumps the bodies elsewhere. He kills people who stumble into his lair the way people kill spiders lurking in corners. It's self-preservation! And craziness, of course, but I appreciate the simplicity of it.

All of this bucking of trends is wonderful, but I wouldn't care a fig- not a single fig!- if Cold Prey wasn't successful. As it is, I find myself caring about it several figs worth. It's a beautiful film to look at, both inside and outside the abandoned hotel (which features a sly nod to The Shining's Room 237). The location is truly isolated, and the whole thing is right scary. Just enough gore, just enough everything.

Who says slashers are dead? Not me! My love remains an eternal flame- not unlike the one The Bangles sang of in "Eternal Flame". Or maybe it's completely unlike the one they sang of- I don't know the words to that song.

A wee note on the sequel: much like Halloween II (1981), Cold Prey 2 picks up where the first film left off and promptly moves the action to a hospital. It is really, really good. Surprisingly good. As good as the first film. In some regards, better. It might even be better than Halloween II. That's right, I said it! I loved it. I don't think it's gotten a Region 1 release yet (region-free DVD players are the best thing ever!), but it's definitely worth tracking down.

Film Club Coolies, y'all! Show 'em love.
Goretical Stimulation
All Day Permanent Red
Smogo's Movie Journal
The Horror Review Hole
No Room in Hell
Soresport Movies
Scare Tactic
Full Moon Reviews
I Will Devour Your Content
Vegan Voorhees
Life Between Frames (reviewing the whole Cold Prey trilogy!)
Scarina's Scary Vault of Scariness
Man vs the Inevitable
Horror, Gore, and More
Post-Mortem Depression
Kitsch or Kill
The Deadly Doll's House of Horror Nonsense
Bloody Mary's Horror-i-flick Movie Revue


Verdant Earl said...

Wow. I remember liking it, but not nearly as much as you did. Maybe I need to give it a second viewing. It's been a while.

Stacie Ponder said...

Oh, I don't know. Plenty of people on the list didn't much like it. I do love a slasher, and I thought it was above take my opinion with a grain of something something.

I did love the sequel, though!

Bloody Mary said...

Thanks for mentioning & recommending a region-free DVD player, Stacie. I couldn't decide which way to go and I asked this question in my review* linked above. I would really be extremely grateful if any of you could offer me your advice about how you see unavailable movies in the comments on my blog.

Thomas Duke said...

Thinking about it, I don't know the lyrics to Eternal Flame either. For some reason, I'm slightly surprised by that.

There's also a Cold Prey 3 that takes place in the 80's (!). I haven't seen 2 or 3 though.

The word verification is "contest". Really! So I've won something? Sweet!

Here's my review again; my e-mail may have been eaten by interweb ghoulies:

Anonymous said...

I don't know why but it was really important to me that you liked this film as much as I did, Ponder. And you did.
I think that Jannicke is one of my favorite final girls.

deadlydolls said...

It was definitely a *very good* slasher, I just felt a tad underwhelmed by its, well, slasheriness. It just didn't surprise me ever, although I do agree that it was beautifully shot and had a kickass final girl.

Vegan Voorhees said...

Glad you loved it too, Stacie!

Oddly, I (finally) got the chance to view Cold Prey III just yesterday, which I also liked more than most.

The whole series is way above par. I think I will move to Norway and just smile about it.

- Hud

iagogo said...

Some may count their thumbs, others their tomatoes. A truly discerning reviewer measures a subject against its weight in figs.
I want to think that i saw and kinda liked this movie, but as i try to remember, it keeps dissolving into that other one with the Nazi zombies in the Alps.

Squisha said...

Stacie, I thank you. You have made my blog, Kitsch or Kill, a happier place by including me here. I really want to see the sequel after reading some of the stuff here, thanks again.

Love your work girl, keep it up. Hearts and stars and magical blood-blood big-ups to you!

adrien said...

I too enjoyed this solid, no-nonsense slasher in the classic tradition. Although watching the english dub will ruin it, so forget about netflix instant. thanks for the heads up on the sequel - didn't know there was one!

kindertrauma said...

This is one of the few horror movies from the last decade that I feel absolutely fanatical about. Berdal rules and watching it back to back with part 2 is slasher ambrosia. Such a great killer too, I love his back story!-Unk

Kevin said...

Aww Stacie,

Where is the love? How come my review ( was not included? :(

Anonymous said...

Much like my childhood, I only saw these characters via the sequel "Cold Prey 2". I enjoyed it alot and thought it was refreshing to see those cliches done through a non-American production. I can't wait to see the first movie, because Jannicke really was a great Final Girl!


James Gracey said...

I really enjoyed this one - and the sequel. I watched them back to back and would recommend anyone who is curious about them to do the same - you get immersed in the story so much deeper, and when Part II picks up where the first one left off (almost immediately) the story just opens out beautifully.

I think the sequel is my favourite though - love the hospital setting.

Glad you loved this as much as I did!

Anonymous said...

Great film and i agree with you, the sequel was even better!

Stacie Ponder said...

Sorry, Kevin- sometimes I miss an email or a message. Fixed!

Mary, for me, watching unavailable movies involves a hunt. VCRs and region-free DVD players are the best! I don't do the download thing. My DVD player wasn't any more expensive than a regular DVD player...and I got it from some website with a weird name, like or something.

Sorry, that's probably not helpful. :D

Thomas Duke said...

I guess you missed my link up there (the 4th comment). I did miss the last one for Blood and Roses, but hopefully I haven't been exiled from the film club and forced to wander the plains. There are WOLVES out there! ;)

Reading the comments, it's clear I need to see Cold Prey 2. I love me some Halloween II and Visiting Hours, and can quite tolerate me some Hospital Massacre.

Stacie Ponder said...

Sorry, fixed.

kevin said...

Thanks Stacie for including the link. You are awesome!

Chris Hewson said...

My review didn't get through either.
Here it is,

Erico said...

Just watched the third one, Fritt Vilt III (Cold Prey III) (2010) and can safely say that this is one kick-ass trilogy. The third on is a prequel and nicely sets up the first two, and I found it quite impressive that this film could actually be viewed before the first two and still not lose any continuity. The care taken to make sure the films flow is quite a change. The third film is similar to Wrong Turn, but has a few twists of its own, and the ending is a nice setup to the original two films. A must see for fans of the first two.

Anonymous said...

I have only seen the first one, but it was very good. Totally eschewed the tongue-in-cheek style that i think was getting out of hand (think dead snow).

Plus the lead actress was exceptionally good.