January 11 - Cold Prey
Ah, yet another horror movie to encourage me to stay in the comfort of my home. A group of five obnoxious snowboarders, two couples and a fifth wheel, are enjoying some off-the-beaten-path sporting when the fifth wheel suffers a gruesome injury. Our hyper-capable final girl Jannicke takes charge, and the gang take shelter in an abandoned hotel that, of course, turns out to be not so abandoned. Murder ensues.
Disclaimer – my enjoyment of Cold Prey was seriously impeded by the fact that the digital copy I rented was dubbed. This was the worst dubbing I have ever seen, and I watch a lot of Italian movies. The words never match the characters lips, the characters never sound afraid, and the whole thing led to some Troll 2 level dialogue. I actually quite liked the film’s end, when it finally makes use of its chilly setting to offer up some symbolically-charged imagery, but it might have just been because no one is talking at that point and the dub cannot distract me.
This is also one of those slasher movies, like Friday the 13th and All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, where the characters don’t realize they’re in danger until like the final half hour or so. I guess this is supposed to build suspense, since we know the characters are fucked but they don’t, but really it’s just tedious. I want to see some panic, some ingenuity, some terror in the face of death, but mostly the kids just fuck around for a while. God they’re annoying. They’re so annoying that it can’t possible just be the dub.
While last week’s slasher was trying to smush a silly premise into a ‘00s slasher shape, Cold Prey goes with a back-to-basics approach. No high concept here. Here are some isolated young people, here is a large masked man with a pickaxe, you do the math. You have to admire the simplicity, and the final scene really is a doozy. But mostly this just reminded me that, in the twenty-first century, you need something special to make a great slasher, and there are already so many good slashers that there’s no point in making a middling one. Next week we get meta – I’m excited.
The Talent: Knowing nothing about Norwegian cinema, I don’t know who any of these people are.
Story Type/Archetypes: See above
Sense of Place: I was surprised that the film didn’t make as much use of the survival-y potential of the setting; like in The Descent, the characters should be worried about how to endure the extreme environmental conditions before the monsters show up. But the abandoned hotel seems to offer adequate warmth.
So, is it a Nosferatu or a Dracula: We skip any harbingers, but this is definitely a Nosferatu. The victims travel and find themselves in the monster’s house.
Mood: With the quick-cuts and the washed-out lighting, this is a very ‘00s film. I’m beginning to understand why Twilight had that friggin blue filter; everyone was fucking up their color balance!
Are there heroes?: Jannicke is your typical competent final girl; her emotional arc is she’s not sure if she’s ready to get serious with her boyfriend. They’re a pretty bland bunch, even for a slasher movie.
Who are the monsters (and why are they scary)?: The mountain man, as he’s dubbed, is big, beardy, and bad news. He even gets a sad childhood backstory.
And where’s the audience?: Not nearly as gory or grisly as its American or French counterparts, this still might be one of those movies to prompt you to say, hey why I am enjoying this violence. And I would answer, because we can tell movie from reality and these kids are basically scarecrows stuffed with bad dialogue.
This movie will freak you out of you’re creeped out by…: The cold, mountain men I guess, breaking a limb while engaging in Sports.
Is it a metaphor for something?: The mountain man is associated with the snowy mountains, so you could say it’s a man versus nature kinda thing. But I don’t think there’s that much to it.
Is there a twist?: We find out the killer’s backstory, and it’s predictable!
What kind of ending is it?: A Final Girl victory. I do love a Final Girl victory.
The girlfriend’s rating (i.e. how much would this upset my girlfriend?): R – for violence
But how gay is it?: Even straighter than the friggin House of Wax. These movies manage to make heterosexuality look so compulsive, and yet so unappealing.
And did it fit the daily theme?: Probably as close to a non-meta original slasher you’re going to get in this century.
Goth Queens / Best Character?: Ugh, none. I wish there’d been a goth.
Watch this if you enjoy: Back-to-basics slashers.
Girlfriend’s Corner: God, the dubbing looked bad. Was this about ghosts or something?