Taking its cue from the great slasher films of old (damn, I feel old for even calling slasher films old), the 2006 European horror hit Cold Prey (Fritt Vilt) is a fast, refreshingly fun thrill ride set in the frozen wilderness of Norway.
Like all good horror thrillers, our story begins with five twenty-something “teenagers” setting out for a weekend of leisurely sporting activities, brewskies, and (if they’re lucky) sex. Ignoring the tourist-trap ski resorts that are overflowing with people who are perfectly content to climb up a mountain only to slide right back down it over and over, the five friends instead opt to take on a secluded mountain that their bandleader Eirik (Tomas Alf Larsen) suggests.
Naturally, what would a horror movie be without the nerdy single bastard redheaded stepchild guy Morten Tobias (Rolf Kristian Larsen) breaking his leg, forcing the others to seek shelter before the rapidly approaching nightfall, er, falls?
Well, wouldn’t you know it? Just around the bend is a large abandoned ski lodge, smack dab in the middle of the Norwegian Alps. Score! But this isn’t your average large abandoned ski lodge smack dab in the middle of the Norwegian Alps, folks: this one was seemingly abandoned all at once — as if the entire population just suddenly up and vamoosed — way back in the year of our Jaws, 1975.
A thirty-year-old large abandoned ski lodge smack dab in the middle of the Norwegian Alps? Well, at least the magazines in the lobby are more up-to-date than the ones you find at the doctor’s office.
Well, despite Morten’s broken leg, this whole skiing excursion is really panning out for everyone: the newly together couple Ingunn and Mikal (Viktoria Winge and Endre Martin Midtstigen, respectively) have the chance to further explore their relationship, Eirik has the opportunity to work out a few details with his commitment-phobic girlfriend Jannicke (top-billed Ingrid Bolsø Berdal), and Morten himself can enjoy the pleasures of sitting on a couch in front of a roaring fireplace and sipping on the finest selection of aged liquor that a large abandoned ski lodge smack dab in the middle of the Norwegian Alps has to offer.
Yep, these kids have it going on for them, and they know it. Too bad for them that the deranged, barely human, murderous psychopath who happens to be living there doesn’t share their opinion.
Lesson learned: stay the fuck out of large abandoned ski lodges smack dab in the middle of the Norwegian Alps. As a matter of fact, stay the fuck out of Norway, period.
It’s rare that I find a post-1985 slasher film to be worth the cost of the three-cent disc it was pressed on, but director Roar Uthaug’s Cold Prey actually succeeded in thawing out the long-frozen adrenaline in my bloodstream and promptly sent it out for a brisk jog. But it wasn’t just me: Cold Prey fared quite well in its native Norway and the rest of Europe alike for its scares (both genuine and red-herring ones), winning itself an Amanda Award (Norway’s equivalent of an Oscar) for Best Actress (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal) and earning an additional Nomination for Best Film.
Unlike its modern American counterparts, Cold Prey doesn’t rely on heavy doses of “torture porn” to relay its message of terror. Sure, it has its share of blood-stained and relatively gory moments, but, when it all boils down, Cold Prey would receive fewer cuts for its network television premiere than something like Rest Stop: Dead Ahead.
Kudos to Anchor Bay Entertainment for bringing us this fun li'l fright flick from Norway; the DVD presents the dimly lit movie in an anamorphic 2.35:1 ratio. Overall, the picture quality looks quite nice — although it is hard to tell at times since the movie is, well, dark like I just said. Audio options for the movie include the original Norwegian soundtrack in so-so 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound (most of the rear channel effects are just that — effects — and are limited to things going bump, ding, and ker-plunk) and an English dubbed Stereo Surround job that reminded me as to why I don’t care to listen to the dubbed version of any horror film post-1985 (most voice actors suck these days — why can’t they all be Ted Rusoff, dammit!). Optional English subtitles (regular and SDH) are included.
Special features for this DVD release begin with an alternate ending (2:30) introduced by director Roar Uthaug (although he isn’t credited — the price we pay for importing special features from the Region 2 DVD release and placing them in the wrong order here); the featurette “Behind Cold Prey” (20:48), interviewing cast and crew and showing some behind-the-scenes footage; and “The Visual FX Of Cold Prey”, a four-part series of featurettes taking a look at the digital effects (which there isn’t a whole lot of), color grading (which there is a lot of), sound design, and poster design (all four pieces run just over 22 minutes total).
Next up on the special features roster is “Car Scenes” (10:33), a look at the various stages of the beginning scenes from rehearsals to the final product; over eight minutes of entertaining bloopers (more entertaining than the ones you find in a Will Ferrell movie at least); a music video for “One Eye Open,” several Norwegian-language trailers and TV spots, and two short films: "Mountain Rose Runs Amok" (made by the Larsen boys from the main feature and starring Tomas Alf Larsen and Endre Martin Midtstigen) and "An Evening In The Green" (one of Uthaug’s early efforts).
The DVD even contains an insert (what are those again?) depicting the original Norwegian poster art.
I heartily recommend Cold Prey — it's a fun, surprisingly well made slasher flick that leaves its most recent domestic competition in the dust. Or should that be "in the snow?" Oh, well, either way: See It.
And to think it only took two-and-a-half years to find its way to America, making its debut to Stateside home video just a few months after its sequel, Cold Prey II, hit theaters in Norway.