Friday, December 27, 2013

#1,229. Cold Prey (2006)

Directed By: Roar Uthaug

Starring: Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Rolf Kristian Larsen, Tomas Alf Larsen

Tag line: "You'll Catch Your Death"

Trivia: At the 2007 Grossmann film and wine festival, the film received the "Vicious Cat Award"

There’s nothing like a horror movie set in the snow to conjure up feelings of isolation, stronger than you’d find in any other setting on earth (as Ridley Scott proved in Alien, outer space has it beat). Cold Prey, director Roar Uthaug’s 2006 film, sees five friends go out of their way to find a ski slope off the beaten path, only to end up as targets for a deranged killer.

The problem arises when one of the five, Morten Tobias (Rolf Kristian Larsen), breaks his leg while snowboarding. Stranded in the middle of nowhere, the friends stumble upon an abandoned ski lodge and proceed to make themselves at home. It isn’t until later on that they discover someone else already lives there, and he’s none too happy to have them around.

Movies like John Carpenter’s The Thing, Kubrick’s The Shining, and even the recent Dead Snow have used wintry settings to spectacular effect, cutting their main characters off from the outside world. In Cold Prey, there’s an early scene where the five friends, having just arrived at the “perfect slope”, reach the top of the mountain and take a moment to marvel at the snowy landscape in front of them. Shot in the Scandinavian Mountains of Jotunheimen, Norway, the area is, indeed, beautiful, but we also get a sense of just how alone they are, something that hits home the moment Morten breaks his leg. When Jannicke (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal) sets it back into place (the bone was protruding through the skin), Morten lets out a scream, at which point director Uthaug cuts to a quick montage of the surrounding area, allowing us to hear the echo rattling around the desolate hills until it finally dissipates. Throughout the film, Uthaug relies on shots of the landscape to drive home the point that these five are completely on their own, left to deal with a situation none of them anticipated.

Of course, it’s nothing compared to what’s waiting for them once they find shelter, at which point Cold Prey switches gears and becomes a standard slasher flick, placing its characters in a remote location where they’re stalked by an unknown killer. He even has a pretty nasty weapon, a pick-axe, and the ability to sneak up on you when you least expect it. Sure, the formula is nothing new; it’s been used before in hundreds of movies. But there’s a reason for that: it works! And in the case of Cold Prey, the winter setting adds to the tension, making the elements as much an adversary as the killer.

Norway has turned out a number of fine horror films in recent years, including 2009’s Dead Snow and Thale in 2012. Cold Prey is definitely one to add to that list. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

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