The 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.
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.