Review: Cold Prey

This 2007 slasher film was not Norway’s first entry to the genre but it was the first Norwegian horror movie that actually spawned sequels. Directed by Roar Uthaug, who in the 80s made one of the first splatter shorts in Norway, it tells the story of a group of 20-something friends who seek refuge at a hotel after a snowboard accident.

Horror movies was not a genre any Norwegian producer would put their money into until the OOs, even though they are steady earners in bigger markets. However, with the arrival of a generation of film makers who grew up with horror movies in the 70s and 80s and who graduated from film school with iconic terror as part of their syllabus, the OOs would see a small, albeit steady stream of scary films. For some reason, slashers seem to have defined Norwegian horror in the OOs and thus Roar Uthaug’s Cold Prey (original title; Fritt Vilt) arrived in 2006 and made a big enough splash to warrant two sequels, a feat unique in Norwegian cinema.

Cold Prey tells the story of a group of 20-something friends who have climbed up a mountain to snowboard down it. One of them breaks a leg, and by coincidence they find a mountain hotel where they take shelter while waiting for the next day. The hotel is closed for business, but soon something starts to happen that makes them feel not welcome. Can you guess what happens next?

From about the 30 minute mark Cold Prey is extremely predictable. It follows 99 of the 100 rules in the How to make a slasher movie book – the 100th rule they don’t obey is the one about the story taking place in the woods. This movie takes place in the snowy, icy mountain, which in itself adds a nice visual frame to the story, but ultimately it does not add anything of surprise. The movie is so full of clichés that is must be seen as a homage to 1980s slasher movies (and in particular to The Shining), and it must also be seen as the first step in a new direction for Norwegian cinema (though not the greatest step Norwegian cinema will ever take). That said, there are a few things in the story that aren’t clichés as well, but they are well buried under all the traditional elements. For young teens not used to more hardcore horror movies, Cold Prey probably works great in theatres, but long time horror fans have seen it all before, and then some. Nevertheless, the direction is great, the acting is better than average for a Norwegian movie, and the gory effects are good, although not overly graphic. Technically, it’s a beautiful film with interesting imagery and good atmosphere.

Seeing that straight slasher movies are a relatively new genre in Norway, it was perhaps not a bad idea to make this movie, as horror movies in general are new and the producers need to educate audiences to see Norwegian horror. So why not then go for the least common denominator. The movie is not bad, it’s in fact quite entertaining, but it will only be great to a certain kind of viewers. If you are interested in slashers set in a different envrionment than big cities or dark woods, you should watch Cold Prey but don’t expect groundbreaking horror. The movie is solid in all ways, but follows the slasher guidelines very carefully. And, I would not have minded if the gore was more graphic.

Rated 6 of 10.

Director: Roar Uthaug
Norway, 2006