Review: Cold Prey 3

With great success comes sequels; no other Nordic horror franchise made it to two, or even one. Cold Prey 3 is as historical as it is average.

frittvilt3 dvd

Comedies and children’s movies often produce sequels (the Olsen Gang series made it to 8 in Sweden and 14 in Norway and Denmark, and spin-offs for children as well) but for a mainstream horror franchise to reach three movies is unheard of in the Nordic region. The Cold Prey series was not the first homegrown horror films up here, but they were perhaps the first movies to mimick their American counterparts 100%, which made them digestible for large crowds of (I am guessing) teens not used to hardcore horror, and now they were offered something almost as cool as the foreign slashers. Perhaps they were joined by their parents, who were curious on this new phenomena.

Cold Prey 3 (original title; Fritt Vilt 3, meaning something like “open season”) is a prequel to the first two movies, and takes place in the late 80s. A group of teens are hiking into the mountain to spend a night in the wilderness, and finds an abandoned hotel, much like Overlook Hotel in The Shining, but with more dust and rats. The girls don’t like the vibes of the place and decide it’s better to sleep outside, so they find a place by a lake. Of course, some big guy in dirty old clothes wants to kill them; the Mountain Man we know from the first two movies.

If the first two movies were formulaic, the third entry does nothing to raise the bar or rectify any problems seen before. While the introduction of two supporting characters offers some possibilities not seen previously in the series, the film follows the numbers and connects the dots as laid out by every single slasher film before this one. We’re not given any deeper backstory on Gunnar the Mountain Man either, not so much that it counts anyway. Storywise, it feels more like a sequel to Manhunt than a prequel to anything, or something between Wrong Turn and Texas Chainsaw Massacre, for those not so enlightened in Nordic horror. Minus the original and twisted stuff.

Much of the fault of this film lies in the writing; the generic teens-in-the-woods-being-slashed concept is just one thing. On the same line, the characters are more generic than before, more or less one-dimensional psycho fodder waiting to be impaled or hacked. The Norwegian nature is used as a backdrop, but the snowy mountains are not (it’s not even cold), and neither is the hotel. It could be anywhere that has a couple of old cabins. And the violence and kills…. well, there’s a handful of gory scenes, but much of it is obscured, edited too fast or not used to its full potential. One expects sloppy writing in the third movie (I have not even mentioned the plot holes and the artificial dialogue) but maybe they could have given us some great gore as compensation?

Finally (and I don’t like to attack amateur actors), the efforts made by the cast leaves a lot to be desired. They’re not doing a great job, which perhaps is the director’s fault more than the cast. The group of 20-something young adults manages to act good on two or three occasions between them. It’s rather embarrasing. They don’t make up for it with nudity eiher (we only see the back of one topless girl – it’s a mainstream movie, you know). The lack of someone like Ingrid Bolsø Berdal to carry the movie shows.

In spite of all this, the film is in fact mildly entertaining, at least for the casual horror fan. The atmosphere is often good (not great, but good), the visuals are acceptable and the old man with the beard is creepy. You never know where you have him. It’s also obvious that they did try something new in the gore department, even though many moments are watered-down. But again, that’s Norwegian mainstream films for you. One scene involving fire was interesting, though.

Cold Prey 3 was director Mikkel Sandemose’s first feature film. I know that many directors cut their teeth with horror films, but that is not mitigating circumstances here. The first two movies were very promising but there is no excuse for sloppyness in the third installment. A nice try, but average at best, even though any theatrical horror film, even this one, stands out compared to most other Scandinavian horror films in comparison.

Rated 5 of 10.

Directed by Mikkel Brænne Sandemose.

Norway, 2010.