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Blood Runs Cold

cast: Ralf Beck, Hanna Oldenburg, Ellin Hugoson, Andreas Rylander, and Patrick Saxe

director: Sonny Laguna

80 minutes (15) 2012
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Chelsea DVD Region 2

RATING: 4/10
review by Jim Steel

Blood Runs Cold

With a title that recalls the prime cheese of the J. Geils Band's Centerfold, it must be said that the omens are not good. But at the beginning it looks okay. There is a heavily-wrapped and goggled axe-man (David Liljeblad) chopping up a driver in the snow, in the woods. Not original by any means, but it looks like well-executed standard slasher fare. And it's Swedish, so there's a sprinkle of the exotic over this film. That soon evaporates when we meet the young pack of victim protagonists. Winona (Hanna Oldenburg) is a singer/ songwriter in need of a rest, so her manager (Patrick Saxe) has booked a house in the woods for a fortnight.

She turns up at the wrong unoccupied house and spends a creepy night there before heading into town for a drink. And here's where the film collapses. One of her ex-boyfriends happens to be there. He's James (Ralf Beck), a stereotypically reserved Scandinavian. James is there with a couple of friends. There's Liz (Elin Hugoson), playing the thankless role of Carl's girlfriend. And there's Carl (Andreas Rylander), who seems to be an extreme parody of Christian Slater. Given that Slater modelled himself on Jack Nicholson, it all gets a bit self-referential when the axes start coming through the doors. (Hmm, Winona... Christian Slater... killings... is this some sort of a warped Heathers tribute?)

The four take their time in getting to know each other and filling in their back stories. It's a pretty woeful section. Either this is the best-dubbed film ever made or it has been filmed in English. The characters all have teenage American accents and bandy around words such as 'ass' as if they were auditioning for American Pie. To be fair, Carl is the main offender but then he does tend to dominate the conversation. Anyway, where are they to going after the bar closes? Winona says that she knows of a really creepy house where they could spend the night, and they all head into the woods, presumably with a drunken driver behind the wheel, to the place where she'd slept the previous night.

People, this house is not creepy. Tilted camera angles do not make houses any scarier, but they might induce nausea in the viewer. Anyone who has rented or visited old remote cottages will have seen worse than this. It is a bit rundown, as is to be expected, but it seems cosy enough. It's even got mains power, and snow ploughs obviously pass by on a regular basis. However, given the amount of space out there, it does seem a bit strange that the builders chose to site it directly on top of an abandoned mineshaft but I suppose these things happen. Anyway, after some more extended drinking they all hit the sack for some rumpy-pumpy. Goggles then reappears and starts to pick them off one by one.

This ensures that the film noticeably improves, and the tension rises considerably despite the fact that several deaths occur off-screen. The house, it turns out, has more character and depth than most of the victims. And off we go. There is a revelation concerning what lies under the goggles but, frankly, it doesn't make sense. There are another couple of logic holes scattered along the way but they fade into insignificance when compared to the horror of the accents.

What of the modern world..? The 21st century has had to deal with the problem of mobile phones in contemporary horror films and it is becoming obvious that this can be used as a concise way to measure their worth. The better ones, such as X-Cross, make them an integral part of the plot. Bad ones just rely on the old - hey, I can't get reception here, line. Blood Runs Cold, not being at the bottom of the pile, tends to place its characters in positions where they're too busy or too scared to answer. And, to be fair to them, it is also hard to get reception when in a mineshaft. But sometimes it seems as if it just doesn't occur to them to phone other people. And there you have it. The film doesn't so much finish as stop at a convenient place to let us off. Some bits are good, but unoriginal, and other bits are unwatchable. There are worse films out there but, really, life's too short to make time for this one.

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