Norway isn’t a major horror player. But the northwestern European nation has produced a few noteworthy chillers including the Dead Snow movies and Trollhunter. In the mid-2000’s, Norway even produced its own budding slasher franchise – the Cold Prey movies. Released in 2006, the original Cold Prey was a box office hit in Norway. Followed by a sequel and then a prequel, rumours are swirling that Cold Prey may even get an American remake. With winter fully settled in, I thought it was a good time to re-visit this foreign-made slasher.
Five friends – Jannicke, Eirik, Mikal, Ingunn, and Morten – head to the remote Norwegian mountains for a snowboarding getaway. But when Morten breaks his leg on the slopes, the group takes shelter in an abandoned ski lodge. Snowed in and miles from help, Jannicke and her friends quickly discover that they’re not alone in the old lodge. A masked man, hidden somewhere in the lodge’s dark halls, has been waiting for them.
Cold Prey Slick But Conventional Slasher
Cold Prey is a straightforward, conventional slasher movie. Don’t go into this one expecting any subversive twists on the formula. Aside from its snowy setting, Cold Prey is content to trade on the familiar. You’ll recognize lots of bits taken from slasher classics with a bit of Wrong Turn thrown in for good measure. Yet in spite of its lack of originality, Cold Prey more than compensates with slick filmmaking.
A snowy surprise a few scenes later is filmed perfectly, shocking you even when you mostly know it’s coming.
Few slasher movies from the ‘80’s had these production values. Everything about this Norwegian horror flick looks good. From the cinematography to the performances to its crisp editing, Cold Prey is a ‘cut above’ most indie slashers. The result are a few well-executed scares. What the movie’s first kill lacks in gruesomeness, it makes up for with some visual flair and well-executed editing. A snowy surprise a few scenes later is filmed perfectly, shocking you even when you mostly know it’s coming.
Light on Scares on the Blood and Scares
Gorehounds looking for creative kills and all manner of gore and vicscera will be disappointed. In this regard, Cold Prey is a rather tame slasher movie. It shares more in common with the horror movies released during the slasher-lite renaissance of the late 90’s, like Urban Legend, than what was getting released during the original 80’s cycle. The body count in this slasher is low. Additionally, most of the kills coming via a pickaxe. Slick editing also means you won’t see much in they way of bodily destruction. In the absence of explicit graphic violence or nudity, Cold Prey offers a good introduction to the subgenre for newer horror fans.
Director Roar Uthaug more than capably sets up thee teases and jumps, but never fully exploits the movie’s claustrophobic setting.
In addition to its safe approach to gore, Cold Prey is pretty light on scares. What you’ll mostly find in the movie are a few gentle jumps and moderate levels of tension. Director Roar Uthaug more than capably sets up these teases and jumps, but never fully exploits the movie’s claustrophobic setting. Much like its death scenes, what Cold Prey offers are professional looking scares suitable for younger horror audiences looking to get their feet wet. As compared to other foreign horror movies released around the same time, including Inside and High Tension, Cold Prey is absolutely tame.
Likeable Cast and Memorable Killer
Like its good production values, Cold Prey benefits from a strong and likeable cast. Nothing deviates from expectations. You’ll find the familiar character types present in just about any slasher movie. It will take all of a few minutes to figure out Jannicke is your ‘Final Girl’ and Morten is your comic relief. Really where things depart from the more obviously derivative fare is in the genuinely good-natured performances from all the cast. In particular, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal stands out as the resourceful Jannicke.
Everyone knows that a good slasher film needs a memorable villain. Cold Prey’s ‘Mountain Man’ largely fits the bill with an overall creepy and imposing look. Though the killer’s tragic origin is largely unexplored, the screenplay, credited to four writers, gives you just enough to elicit a bit of sympathy. The end effect of how the movie handles its killer is to leave you wanting to see more of him, which isn’t a bad thing.
Cold Prey Is Horror Comfort Food
Technically, Cold Prey isn’t a remarkable horror movie in any regard. By and large, this is a derivative and safe slasher movie that offers nothing new. Nevertheless, just like your favourite old sweater, it’s a hard movie not to like. Its familiarity in part makes it a fun and safe movie. That is, Cold Prey is reliable. Everything it does, it does very well.