Cold Prey (2006)

You’ll Catch Your Death

Writer: Thomas Moldestat
Director: Roar Uthaug

Cold Prey (Fritt Vilt) has received a lot of hype so I was interested to see if the movie lived up to its reputation. It doesn’t, but it’s still a pretty good albeit unoriginal slasher movie.

The film begins with a terrified young boy running through the snow, clearly pursued by someone or something. From that we move to a montage of news reports of people going missing in the mountains. Most of these are presumably lost in the snow storms – but does that account for all the disappearances? By the end of the title sequence the back-story and set up is in place, a quick and effective technique that could teach a lesson to much of Hollywood.

Move forward 30 years to the current day and a group of five young people travelling into the mountains for a skiing holiday. Following an accident they take refuge in an apparently abandoned hotel. From that moment their fate is sealed and the only question is which if any of them will get out alive.

As I said, unoriginal in almost every respect other than the setting. Even the reveal at the end is obvious very, very early. There’s nothing new in Cold Prey, however this take on the theme is far more stylish and effective than most.

For a start there’s the setting, the snow covered mountains of Norway. Whereas 30 Days of Night (2007) wasted its setup, Cold Prey embraces it. It’s not often that slasher films are associated with gorgeous cinematography. Fotunately the scenery isn’t just pretty but integral to the story – it’s beautiful but also isolated and dangerous. The photography follows this theme. Although Cold Prey is shot in colour, it’s lit in such a way that much of the time it feels like monochrome. This provides a great sense of atmosphere.

There’s also a surprising amount of tension. Yes, we know the characters are gonna be bumped off one by one – but who will be next? The film plays with this, often leading us to expect one thing then veering off at the last moment. Another good thing about Cold Prey is that the characters are neither as stupid nor as obnoxious as those in most teen slashers. They actually feel like real people and – for once – it’s possible to care about their fate.

Ultimately the movie reaches its inevitable conclusion, which should surprise nobody. The attempt at a surprise reveal is probably the least satisfying thing about the film. They might have been better off accepting that most of their audience had worked out what was happening early on.

Cold Prey is an atmospheric slasher – if you’re looking for blood and gore then you won’t find much shown explicitly on screen. The story is unoriginal and adds nothing to the genre however the realisation is superb.