I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Cold Prey (Fritt Vilt)

tn_coldpreyhalloweenleftoversThe last couple Octobers I was on the hunt for undiscovered slasher gems. I would go through the video store where they keep all the slasher type business, looking for ones I never noticed or never bothered to pay attention to, especially VHS since if it’s not on DVD yet it’s gonna be pretty obscure. This led to some really shitty ones and a few minor discoveries. Last year I also learned to look in the murder mysteries, it turned out there were a few good ones like EYES OF A STRANGER that cross over into that territory.

This year I hit gold right at the start (yeah, I know – ’cause you guys drew me a map). After that there was no pressure so I got some non-slasher ones and dipped into some of the horror sections I usually don’t look at. But while browsing the Euro-Horror I spotted this 2006 Norwegian slasher movie. It drew my attention by being next to its part 2, so that seemed like the type of shit I might like. You know how I am, I’m a sucker for the legitimizing power of the series.

Oh shit, the mountain has a skull on it, that's how you know this is not gonna be one of their top 5 snowboarding trips in my opinion
Oh shit, the mountain has a skull on it, that’s how you know this is not gonna be one of their top 5 snowboarding trips in my opinion

I vaguely remember this might’ve gotten a couple good reviews on the internet, but I didn’t know anything about it. Wikipedia says it was the winner of the Vicious Cat Award at the 2007 Grossmann Film and Wine Festival, so obviously it’s a pretty big deal. The wine champion that year was the Rhein Riesling 2007 by Dveri Pax, if that helps.

The movie starts with a prologue where a little boy is being chased through the snow. Then it goes into the ol’ Opening Credits/Montage of Explanatory Newspaper Articles hybrid we all know and love. It seems that this kid went missing, his parents never found him, then over the years a bunch of other people got killed, in fact over 110. If that many bodies were just freezing and not being intentionally disposed of I think the ski paths would start to get bumpy. So my guess is there’s a slasher on the loose and he’s got a body count to rival any movie slasher at least in a part 1. Doing Norway proud.

Then we meet our protagonists, a group of twenty-something snowboarders, two attractive girls and three dudes. In the car they goof around, reveal their relationships, etc. before heading up the mountain where there’s a very steep and secluded run that apparently only they know about because there’s nobody else there. At least nobody else that has not killed over 110 Norwegians.

So they’re snowboarding and one of the guys bites it and gets a nasty compound fracture. They seek shelter at (in other words break into) a building they find, which turns out to be the abandoned inn of the parents of that kid that went missing all those years ago. A ha, so that prologue was actually relevant to the plot. I thought it was just gonna be some interesting trivia about the area. I guess it makes more sense that it would come up again, I’m not sure why I thought that. I should delete this part it makes me look dumb. go back and fix later

They mend the leg as good as they can, find a generator to get some electricity going, enjoy the fully stocked bar, etc., figuring they should stay the night and enjoy themselves until they can get some help. So they have a better time than the kids in FROZEN, at least. They’re much warmer and aren’t forced to piss themselves.

Actually they start acting like Goldilocks. They make themselves way too at home way too fast. But they’re pretty likable kids. I didn’t want them to get killed. But hey, there’s only 5 eggs here, how small an omelette am I willing to settle for?

This is a better-than-most-if-not-at-all-innovative slasher movie. Actually, I appreciate how straightforward it is, especially in this day and age. I prefer the FRIDAY THE 13TH 2 approach to the FRIDAY THE 13TH. It’s much better to just know who the killer is from the beginning than to wait until the end to find out. I guess this is kind of in between the two approaches, but it doesn’t have some big twist at the end, not exactly. Or at least it’s not hinging on you being surprised by it. The killer is unseen for a while and they set up alot of sexual tension between the various parties and I was worried it would be some trick where one of the kids actually lured them all there to kill them. But I am happy to report that it’s not some stupid bullshit like that.

I’m not gonna give it away otherwise, just rest assured it’s not a Scooby-Doo type ending. It’s a big behemoth chopping people up. Possibly a Yeti, possibly a snow mutant or snow redneck, possibly just a large individual with some troubling emotional issues. Could be any number of big guys in this particular habitat.

While clearly these Norwegians are not trying to reinvent the slasher movie (or at least I sure hope they’re not) I think there is one twist on the formula that’s interesting to us scholars of the genre. See, there’s a scene where one of the couples get in bed together, but the girl decides she’s not ready so the guy gets pissed, calls her a “cock tease” and storms off.

This immediately makes you turn on the guy for being an asshole, and in many movies it would be the excuse to have a “good kill” where the audience is happy about how horribly the dude gets it. But (SPOILER) instead this snow slasher goes after the girl. See, I like it because it’s the reverse of the famous formula. Ever since HALLOWEEN the biggest cliche of slasher movies was SEX = DEATH. But this is the opposite, it’s NOT SEX = DEATH. Either it’s coincidental timing or its abstinence that got her killed. You can’t read it as saying she deserved it for being a ho. She’s not a ho.

It’s kind of weird though because the way it goes down sets up a couple big dramatic possibilities that they don’t bother to use. Because the two split up in a fight the girl can disappear and all her friends just think she’s secluding herself because she’s mad at her boyfriend. Eventually they go into her room and find blood everywhere, and she’s missing. They have no reason to believe there’s a murderer on the loose, so for a little bit it seems like the idea is they think she may have cut or stabbed herself – that’s not one I can remember seeing before. And no, this obvious possibility doesn’t seem to occur to these characters either.

Then there’s a second where they realize the likelihood of angry boyfriend having done her in. But as soon as they think of it the real killer shows up and that’s a bunch of tension set up and then just tossed out unused.

On the other hand it does a good job of following the Final Girl tradition and executing it well. This girl is strong and smart, but not in a phony type of way. You know she can handle herself because of the first aid she does on the broken leg. Then she gets scared but never reduced to a bunch of screaming and blubbering.

It turns out the killer does have a sort of legend about him, a backstory, but I like that the protagonists never heard of it before. They don’t do the ol’ “Yeah, haven’t you heard the story of the blah blah blah? They say he killed over 110 people, etc.” Instead they bring up a completely different legend of a “cabin fellow” who breaks into people’s cabins and takes a dump on their floor. I don’t think that’s who this is, that’s a different guy.

I really hope that late in part 2 we find out that one of the heroes is actually the cabin fellow. But he’s still a hero, he just has a bad habit of breaking into cabins and shitting on their floors. One of those colorful character quirks that make movie characters interesting.

Well, I’ll let you know after I watch it. Fingers crossed. (if not there’s a part 3 coming out too. Plenty of cabin fellow opportunities.)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Monday, November 8th, 2010 at 2:25 am and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

23 Responses to “Cold Prey (Fritt Vilt)”

  1. Fritt Vilt 2 = Halloween 2

  2. The “cabin fellow” they mention in the movie is actually a true story. When the police finally caught him, it turned out he was neither colorful or interesting.

  3. I kind of agree with Vincento, in that Fritt Vilt 2 is set in a hospital and picks up the action almost immediately after the first film. But it’s also one of the best horror sequels out there. Glad you liked Fritt Vilt Vern, I really hope you check out the sequel.

  4. There’s actually a bunch of interesting Scandinavian movies that come with an oddly-calm vibe, even when the subject matter is harsh. The Norwegian Bent Hamer is a name to watch, although he works in non-horror movies. Roy Andersson – a Swede – also has a decent style to his movies. The one to avoid – no matter how good the trailer may look to some – is DEAD SNOW, which is so fucking self-satisfied yet inept that I got angry watching it. It’s also notable for having none of the interesting Scandinavian style, instead opting to pastiche Edgar Wright’s SHAUN OF THE DEAD. I’ll check out FRITT VILT now, anyway.

  5. I too like series. The worse the next movie is, the more you love the first, i.e. Lost Boys. I will check out this movie though. And for some reason, since you didn’t go into details, I keep picturing “Friday the 13th; Jason goes on holiday.”

    Oh and if they made a second one, I would love to see Jason kick the crap out of Captain Floor Pooper. Da Da Da Daaa!

  6. I like Cold Prey 2 almost as much as the first one. It’s more action oriented, but still quite scary. Haven’t seen the third one yet, but they say it’s more like a thriller a la Deliverance. I like Dead Snow too. It’s not especially scary, but really bloody and quite fun. Can’t wait to see what the director will make of his Hollywood debut next year with Hansel and Gretel Witchhunters.

  7. The original Paul

    November 8th, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    Can’t agree with Vern on one thing – I think the “mystery slasher” is the best type, at least when done right. The trouble is, it so often isn’t. Could ANYBODY have failed to spot the killer about ten minutes into “I still know what you did last summer”?

    With that in mind, I might keep a lookout for this one. Disagree with the “Dead Snow”-haters though (and I’m genuinely surprised by how many of them there are out there).

  8. Cool, I saw this but didn’t know there were sequels.
    Thanks for pointing out the genre twists, Vern, they were also what I liked about this movie.

    I thought all the internets loved Dead Snow. I thought it was OK, but wished it had been all out Evil Dead 2 instead of only in parts.
    C’mon, wasn’t the part cool where the dude was saved from falling off the cliff by the dangling Nazi zombie intestines?

  9. Can’t go wrong with the evil dead series! I’m so in love with Ash!

  10. So many horror reviews, so few Manitous.

  11. Speaking of Norwegian horror, anyone else excited for THE TROLL HUNTER?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4PGFODxiJc

  12. Jeebus… I’ve been sitting on a copy of this for almost two years and never once been bothered to watch it. Guess I’m going to be popping it in the ol’ player tonight. Thanks, Vern!

  13. this is off topic, but in case anyone was wondering I’ve been, well I’m back

    a little something called “Fallout New Vegas” happened so I haven’t been spending a whole lot of time on the net

  14. bite me! haven’t gotten it yet.

  15. Another Norwegian horror I enjoyed was Rovdyr, which has a great Texas Chainsaw Massacre feel to it (but is nothing like that film). Five friends get stuck in the Northern province after picking up a hitchhiker, only to be chased down and hunted for sport by some of the locals. The characters are more in tune with American slasher archetypes, ie. unlikeable assholes and the kills are much harsher than in the Fritt Vilt films.

    Troll Hunter looks like its going to be a blast, and I was lucky to see Rare Exports on Halloween at the Frightfest all-nighter. It’s a great little film, a kid’s horror movie in the same way that Silver Bullet was a kids movie.

  16. I need to see Rare Exports. I love good kid´s horror movies: The Gate, Gremlins, The Hole…

  17. Don’t bother with DEAD SNOW. Apparently the director was so pleased with the cool make-up and special FX, he thought he didn’t need a good script.

  18. Good to see you picked this one up, Vern. I particularly liked this because it had so typical of a slasher plot but was carried out incredibly well with perfetly executed moments of suspense and you can really believe the final girl can kick that much ass when the chips are finally down against her.

    Vincento is right that Fritt Vilt 2 is basically Halloween 2. It adds more characters to be killed off and doesn’t need to build up the slasher because he’s already established from the first movie. I did like that the final girl from the first one gets help from the (spoiler) other final girl from this movie in doing in the slasher for good.

    There’s a third one? I wonder what the concept is considering the slasher guy was killed off with finality in the second one.

  19. Cassidy – I liked that they made a point of making sure there wouldn’t be a second sequel. However the third installment is a prequel, which filled me with dread when I heard it – after all, we know about Mountain Man’s past – but having seen the trailer, I have to say it looks excellent.

  20. 10 Norwgian horror films that could be worth checking out if you’re in the right mood;

    Island of Darkness (Mørkets Øy 1997)
    Dark Woods (Villmark 2003)
    Cold Prey (2006)
    Cold Prey II (2008)
    Manhunt (Rovdyr 2008)
    Hidden (Skjult 2009)
    Dead Snow (Død Snø 2009)
    Detour (Snarveien 2009)
    Cold Prey III (2010)
    The Troll Hunter (Trolljegeren 2010)

  21. Skjult, a very smart psychological thriller.

  22. I thought Rare Exports needed more of a payoff

  23. Little late here, maybe, but of the ten films listed, Mr Pegsman, Dark Woods (Villmark 2003) is the only one recommendable. Although I haven’t seen Island of Darkness (Mørkets Øy 1997) (maybe that’s a keeper, who knows) – the only reason these films do well abroad is because the shitty acting gets lost in translation.

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