Blood Runs Cold (2011)

An isolated place, snowstorms, a scary old house in the woods, four friends and one crazed psychopath – a recipe for disaster? A recipe for cliché soup, more like.

This horror story is a simple and common one: homely artist Winona (Hanna Oldenburg) has returned to her home town to do some work away from the stresses of the city. Meeting her lovely ex-boyfriend and his two horny friends in a bar, they trek to Winona’s hired cabin for an evening of drinking, catching up and a bit of sex. But someone is watching, and he doesn’t like what he sees. Suddenly the happy sexy-times are destroyed by this horrible-toothed murderer and soon Winona and her new chums are fighting for survival…

It’s a very pedestrian plot that seems copy n’ pasted from the Big Book of Slasher Flicks. If you’re new to the genre, don’t start here, and if you’ve seen everything from Halloween to I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer, then you’ll be pleasantly bored. I say pleasantly, because there are some genuinely good things about Blood Runs Cold.

Despite being surrounded by a glut of terrible acting, Andreas Rylander gives a stand-out performance as the perversely likeable Carl, the only convincing character in Blood Runs Cold. Sadly as the comedic side-kick, our joy at Rylander’s involvement is literally cut short.

Whereas some slasher flicks tend to have dull killers with interesting M.Os, such as Choose or Sorority Row, Blood Runs Cold has a very interesting baddie. He’s entirely wrapped up in a snowsuit, wears scary goggles and has a horrible, broken mouth. Also – very disconcerting – his insides appear to be entirely made of dust. Despite the storyline being utterly banal, the killer in Blood Runs Cold is actually very inventive. Frustratingly, we learn very little about him, his motive or even who he is. Blood Runs Cold is a film full of wanting.

Sadly that’s the positives over with, as Blood Runs Cold is riddled with problems. For a slasher flick, there is little carnage, and apart from the absolutely random pre-credits sequence, the body count can only be as high as four, and two of them are executed boringly in quick succession, leaving us only Winona and her kind ex Richard to care for. This would be a reasonable decision if our characters were compelling… but they’re not.

Winona is a complete idiot – for a hundred reasons – but top of the list is this: upon waking up and finding the lounge floor absolutely covered in blood, she sighs in annoyance and proceeds to clean it up! Yep! This reaction, however, probably has something to do with Hanna Oldenburg, who is simply an appalling actress. As a huge percentage of the film is scriptless, she substitutes a nuanced, naturalistic performance with a succession of crazy, googly-eyed stares, which become more and more pantomime.

The acting issues in Blood Runs Cold are probably due to one fact: the film is Swedish. Before you scream “Xenophobic bastard!” at me, I have no issue with Swedish films, but this is a Swedish-made film, made in Sweden, with a Swedish cast and crew…. that’s set in America.

Obviously a marketing / financial choice – also used in the shonky-accented Paintball – this English-language film still feels like its set in Sweden with Swedish people pretending to be Americans. Hanna Oldenburg’s accent is all over the place, and the rest of the cast also struggle to keep a command of their accents. It’s an interesting choice, but all this concentration on accents has meant there’s less concentration on acting, and the film seriously fails to convince because of this.

There is an cavalcade of issues with Blood Runs Cold that is not reliant on faltering accents, however: the pace is inconsistent, the scares non-existent, the blood-effects ridiculous and at one point Winona finds a machine gun in the killer’s creepy cave. A machine gun! It’s a real shame because the killer is such an interesting figure (although, on hindsight, slightly reminiscent of Karl Kroenen from Hellboy).

Overall Blood Runs Cold is a horribly generic, almost ironically clichéd, poorly acted, fundamentally flawed “Amercian” slasher flick. Rylander is excellent and the killer is genuinely original, but nothing can help dig this mess from its avalanche of problems.

Rating: ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

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