Cold Prey (2006)

Twenty-something Jannicke is on a boarding vacation in Jotunheimen, along with her friends Eirik, Mikael, Ingunn, and Morten Tobias. Everything is going swimmingly, until Morten Tobias suffers a broken leg on the mountain, forcing them to take shelter in a nearby abandoned hotel. Things are not as they seem though, and they soon start to realise that in this place, they’re not alone. With that, you have Cold Prey (Norwegian Title: Fritt Vilt), Norway’s take on the slasher genre.

From the outset, Cold Prey has a lot of potential, but almost immediately falls into the trap of blinding predictability. So much so, the most oblivious of viewers will most likely know who the killer is by the time the opening credits finish rolling. Slasher movies thrive on the ‘whodunit’ element, constantly throwing you curve balls and making you think you know who the killer is then completely blindsiding you at their conclusion. Cold Prey really missed the trick here, but perhaps this was their intent?

The setting itself, a mountain far from civilisation, shrouds the film with a sense of hopelessness. A sense that even if these young, free spirited kids manage to escape their attacker, they then have the near impossible task of getting off the mountain itself. Unfortunately, it’s the mountain that comes across as more threatening than the killer himself. At no point through the film is the killer (a lumbering, slow moving, clumsy oaf) ever really convincing as an antagonist. The threat level just isn’t there. Couple that with an unconvincing backstory of how someone like this could survive that long alone, and you’re left…bored.

The ensemble cast play their parts well, and the stand out performance is shared by the films main protagonist Jannicke, played expertly by Ingrid Bolsø Berdal (Chernobyl Diaries) and lovable fool Morten Tobias (Rolf Kristian Larson). Jannicke is a strong, believable character, who keeps a level head throughout, while Morten Tobias is a realist; someone who I think we could all relate to in that situation. Aside from these two though, the rest of the cast are instantly forgettable. You have Mikael and Ingunn, the ‘randy teenagers’, and Eirik the ‘Jock’. It would have been nice to see director Roar Uthaug create some more engaging characters. We know he could have done it because we have Jannicke and Morten Tobias, the other characters just feel lazy. Even the antagonist is a lazy attempt at a believable menace.

Cold Prey is an incredibly frustrating film to watch, because you can see what they were trying to go for, but they somewhat miss the mark. It is a film that never really lived up to its potential, and though it is entertaining enough, has strong leading performances, and some genuinely great moments, it’s a film that leaves you wanting more. If they’d just amped up the threat a little more and attempted a bit more originality, it would have worked wonders. Unfortunately, a large portion of the final product just comes across as lazy. All that is left to wonder now is does the sequel improve on the easily rectifiable mistakes of the first?

Rating: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

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