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Cold Prey DVD boxset


Cold Prey Resurrection
cast: Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Marthe Snorresdotter Rovik, Johanna Mørck, Fridtjov Såheim, and Kim Wifladt

director: Mats Stenberg

86 minutes (18) 2008
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Momentum DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Jonathan McCalmont
Cold Prey was hugely popular in its native Norway thanks to its no-nonsense slasher plot, its beautiful setting and its attractive home-grown talent. However, I did not think very much of it. I hated the fact that it took 40 minutes to get going, I hated the fact that it lacked tension, and I hated the fact that the film as a whole lacked visual inventiveness. Given that the original film annoyed me so much, I was not expecting very much from the sequel Cold Prey: Resurrection (aka: Fritt vilt 2). However, perhaps because of these low expectations, the film completely won me over, not least because it is actually quite well directed.

Picking up immediately after the events of Cold Prey, Cold Prey: Resurrection is set in a small town hospital. Due to be closed, the dreary 1970s' building is empty except for a skeleton staff and a couple of remaining patients. The quiet winding down of the hospital is then thrown into disarray when the local search and rescue bod (Kim Wifladt) brings in a girl (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal) found wandering in the snow-covered wilderness, raving about dead friends and an ice-axe wielding madman. The police dutifully make their way out to the old hotel to investigate and find a load of bodies including that of the killer. Unfortunately for all concerned, their decision to bring these bodies back to the hospital proves to be utterly disastrous.

In some ways, Cold Prey: Resurrection is a demonstration of how good a film Cold Prey could have been had it been properly directed. For example, while both films take an age to get going, only Cold Prey: Resurrection puts those empty minutes to good use. Indeed, Cold Prey's first act was lavished upon the social lives of a bunch of characters that never came across as anything other than a bunch of snowboarding cockends. Their personalities were bland and their problems utterly generic and the amount of time devoted to these matters served only to make you hope that the killing would start soon. By contrast, this film is filled with characters that are not only believable but also likeable enough that their problems are endearing and interesting rather than annoying. For example, the flirtation between a nurse (Johanna Mørck) and a young policeman (Mats Eldøen) is touchingly awkward, the love triangle involving two doctors (Marthe Snorresdotter Rovik and Fridtjov Såheim) and the search and rescue guy is filled with simmering resentment and frustration, and even Ingrid Bolsø Berdal's return as Jannicke (the lone survivor of the first film) is rewarded with a juicier part in which she has to slowly reassemble her shattered sanity, whilst grieving for her friends and coming to terms with the fact that the cycle of violence may very well be about to start all over again. The contrast could not be starker: in Cold Prey the first act is a self-indulgent waste of time, in Cold Prey 2 it makes you like the characters enough that the ensuing violence has more impact.

The killings themselves are also a step in the right direction. Mats Stenberg presents each murder with ghoulish glee; the quick kills are sprung on us after heart-warming scenes and the slow kills are drawn out amidst howls of terror and rattling final breaths. Every drop of blood is paid for with the human sympathy built up during that first act. Stenberg also knows how to make the most of his sets. For example, in Cold Prey, the killer was frequently over-shadowed by the awe-inspiring beauty of Norway's mountain ranges. In Cold Prey: Resurrection he is mostly seen in cramped doorways and narrow corridors, thereby making his huge physical presence seem all the more imposing. Stenberg even does a better job with the Jotunheim scenery including some fantastic night shoots where a couple of policemen are left on their own at a murder site which, despite being in the middle of a vast snowfield, suddenly feels very claustrophobic indeed.

Intriguingly, the film is not content with simply revisiting the Cold Prey formula. Its second act does see people being stalked through a hospital by a deranged killer but then a very subtle shift in focus takes place. Stenberg effectively does to Cold Prey 2 what Aliens (1986) did to Alien (1979), which is to shift from a horror genre to an action-horror hybrid. This shift immediately takes the film to the next level as a group of policemen trying to kill the murderer find themselves being mercilessly hunted down through darkened corridors and the tension and excitement slowly build towards a climactic final battle. However, Stenberg's debt to Aliens is not limited to the tone as Jannicke's character undergoes a similar transformation to that of Ripley. While Jannicke may have been the victim in the first film, her experience with the killer and the refusal of people in authority to listen to her turns her into a kind of Cassandra figure, ranting and raving about coming dangers but unable to prevent their arrival. Once things go bad, Jannicke has a similar realisation that unless she steps up, the killings will continue. This is conveyed in a fantastic scene where the characters turn their attention back to the body of the killer to find it replaced with a series of bloodied footprints leading back towards the mountains. As with Aliens, this creates the problem of the film having multiple endings but when those endings are this much fun, it hardly matters.

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