Thursday, January 22, 2009

DVDebuts: COLD PREY offers chilly Norwegian scares

Because it's so difficult to find a decent "scare" movie -- partic-ularly in the over-used, tawdry & about-to-insult-
us-again mode of Friday the 13th -- I'd like to recom-
mend a fright fest from Norway entitled COLD PREY (Fritt vilt in the original language). Jumping off from the usual "a group of young people go away for the weekend" scenario, director

Roar Uthaug and writer Thomas Moldestad set their tale high in the snowy mountains (gorgeous!) and then in a deserted ski lodge where some nasty things happen.
Because the kids are a step up from the usual imbeciles one encounters in most American films of this genre, and due to the filmmakers' speed and intelligence in handling their exposition, the movie builds tension creepily and believably, with very few missteps. The cast, as expected of this genre, is young and attractive but also talented enough to goose the movie onto a higher level. With only nine characters total, and as good as everyone is, interestingly enough it is the female roster who outshines its male counterpart in both attractiveness and talent. The women characters seem a bit smarter, too, particularly Jannicke, played by the feisty and pert Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, below. (That's Viktoria Winge, above, whom foreign film buffs may remember from the recent Reprise.)

I don't want to mislead you here: Cold Prey is definitely in the horror/slasher movie mode, one of which I am generally not fond. But I found the location much more interesting than most in this genre; the cinematography (by Daniel Voldheim), bleached of much of its color, is oddly beautiful; and the rather typical plot is with handled with more care and expertise than expected. You'll probably figure out some, but not all, of the surprises along the way, and the ending is a particularly good one: briefly and subtly explaining certain things -- but only to a point. A big success in its home territory, the film has already spawned a sequel (which opened in Norway toward the end of last year), though I cannot imagine it will be anywhere near as good. On the DVD extras, in the "Making Of" section, you'll find an unusual "alternate ending" done via storyboard ("We couldn't afford to shoot it," the director explains) -- which is fun but would have made a much more obvious and overdone choice. I, for one, am glad they didn't have the budget.

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