Friday, April 12, 2013

Cold Prey II - Shout! Factory DVD Review

Cold Prey II

Director: Mats Stenberg
Writer: Thomas Moldestad
Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Marthe Snorresdotter Rovik, Kim Wifladt
Country: Norway

Cold Prey II (original Norwegian title Fritt Vilt II) picks ups shortly after the events of the first film. Jannicke, the sole survivor of Geir Olav Brath's pickaxe murdering spree is nearly hit by a truck driven by a guy named Ole as she stumbles weary and dazed down the middle of the snowy road. Jannicke is taken to a nearby soon to be shut down hospital where Ole's girlfriend is a nurse.

She tells her story, a madman has brutally murdered her friends with a pickaxe and left their bodies in a crevasse in the mountains. The police are skeptical, but they head out and a few hours later they return with 5 bodies. Jannicke only had 4 friends with her in the first film, the fifth body happens to be Geir, the guy who killed all of her friends. One problem, he's not so much  "dead" as he is "alive". Just barely though, his heart is pumping about 10-20 beats per minute, just enough to keep him alive. Soon the doctor and nurses will discover they've made a pretty massive error in reviving the 7-foot tall killing machine.

Cold Prey II is pretty much a perfect horror film. Intense and at times unbearably suspenseful, it's an incredibly well acted and well shot film. The first thing it gets right is that the characters are all likeable people that you'd actually like to spend time with if you knew them. None of the characters are horribly obnoxious, so the murders in this, while not overly gory are still brutally effective. When a sweet, lovable nurse got beaten to death with a fire extinguisher halfway through the movie it crushed me. She had just met a guy she liked, they were probably gonna get coffee after the shift, and who knows, maybe start dating, get married, have a kid. Nope. Fire Extinguisher. Head. Clang! Dead. This was one of the most effective deaths I've seen in some time.

Ingrid Bolsø Berdal is brilliant as Jannicke. She plays frightened so well, her fear feels very real. She's also incredible when it comes time to fight back against the killer. You don't see really great acting in slasher films very often, but she absolutely kills it in this. Marthe Snorresdotter Rovik who plays Camilla is also very strong, made all the more impressive because this was her first role, and I don't think she's really done a lot of acting otherwise. Apart from Cold Prey II, she's done a few shorts, one other movie and a couple of TV episodes of a show called Castaway. She also is credited as "Costume Stand-by" on Castaway. What the hell is a costume stand-by? 

Geir Olav Brath is a truly menacing killer. The man is like a huge ice viking with decades unwashed hair, clothes so filthy you can almost smell them through the screen, and a large birthmark covering the left side of his face. This guy is so big, even if you have a weapon when he attacks you're still 99% fucked. A doctor hits this guy with a large crescent wrench and he doesn't even seemed bothered by it, he just goes on about his murdering business.

The only negative I can think of is the occasional over reliance on sharp sudden noise scares, a couple more of those than there should've been. But really, that's a pretty minor flaw that I don't even know if I can call a flaw. This was more of a thing that annoyed me personally a couple of times, not sure if this bothers anyone else.

Cold Prey II was directed by one-timer Mats Stenberg. How do you come out of nowhere, direct a nearly perfect slasher film and then just stop? I've watched hundreds of mediocre, or way below mediocre slashers in my time, it's a hard type of film to get right. This guy nails it, and walks away. I think maybe he took note of the countless horror directors over the years who have started out with a bang, making three or four great films in a row, then spend the rest of their careers cranking out films that get progressively worse. He saw the final cut of Cold Prey II and thought, "Well, there's no way I'm going to top that. I'm out."

Things to watch for:

Dazed and Contused
How Not To Use a Fire Extinguisher
Pick Axe Upgrade
Bandage Bondage
Shotgun Lobotomy

Cold Prey II was released back in 2008, but Shout Factory is giving the film a long overdue US DVD debut April 23rd. with a good looking 2.35:1anamorphic transfer and a dynamic Dolby digital 5.1 channel Norwegian audio track. Extras are limited to a trailer and 7 deleted scenes. Not a lot of bonus features, but it's just great this truly excellent film is finally getting released stateside so Americans without region free capabilities can check it out. I highly recommend it.

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