Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Cold Prey (Fritt Vilt): A Movie Review

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Director: Roar Uthaug.

Writer(s): Thomas Moldestad, and Roar Uthaug.

"Cold Prey," or "Fritt Vilt," is a Norwegian film from director and writer Roar Uthaug that takes a European approach to the traditional slasher films of the present and past. Starting off with five friends on a snowboarding trip to local mountain Jotunheimen these five characters; Jannicke (Ingrid Berdal), Morten (Rolf Larsen), Eirik (Tomas Larsen), Mikal (Endre Midstigen) and Ingunn (Viktoria Winge) find they are not alone in this isolated landscape. After Morten breaks his leg, in an accident this group of locals find shelter in a rundown ski resort that now houses one emotionally disturbed individual who unfortunately, does not make a full appearance until half way into the film.

Taking place in a very cold environment the lighting, music, and interior sets emphasize the stark setting as the story slowly builds the story to a climax. A sub-plot involving an abandoned boy is given some attention early in the film and this character is sure to appear again in the film. Later, lights flicker on and off in glossy, quiet hallways and director Uthaug attempts to create some character development in the first thirty minutes of the film, but the pacing suffers. These five friends, who are probably pals on and off screen talk, explore, eat and drink in this resort, hotel while the killer is given little to no focus during the first act. Only in one scene involving some blood and burned bedding do the killer's past deeds receive any notice while building suspense. As well, the music seems on the mark as the score, for the film shifts in tone and intensity to match the sometimes frightened and excited characterizations in the film.

Once the killer is given an introduction the pacing of "Cold Prey," slightly picks up as the remaining characters do battle with, to them an unknown assailant. Most of the mystery as to the killer's identity is lost, though for the viewers as the probable killer fights for his life in a snowdrift. As well, some foreshadowing is given as to the direction the story will take in "Cold Prey," with lockets lost in blood and a guestbook reading "We hope you find your boy," but in order to amp up the tension in the film character and murderer Geir Olav Brat could have been given some smaller appearances earlier in the film.

Only one character manages to get out of the film alive with a final climactic battle near the ending involving; a deep chasm, some bodies, and a pickaxe. Viewers will have to see the film for themselves to see who comes out the winner.

Grossing over seventeen million by 2007 "Cold Prey," is a European horror success story; yet this little known film could have been taken into grittier territory to heighten the entertainment factor of the film. Definitely staying in a horror tone throughout the picture "Cold Prey," utilizes a unique environment to isolate and then terrify the lead characters. Staying away from the obvious gore and blood effects "Cold Prey," generates suspense with the mystery of not knowing when and how the killer will strike. As well, utilizing a costume that is suitable for the cold, winter-like environment the antagonist's face is never shown and therefore some complexity is lost, in the story as viewers will be unable to empathize with the central character Brat hidden behind a mask. In the same theme, probably in a deliberate attempt by director Uthaug to place viewers on the side of the five friends versus the villain Brat is also given zero lines of dialogue. But would movie watchers really be rooting for the death of Brat, who is the victim of physical abuse earlier in the film?

The social message in "Cold Prey," is fairly ambiguous and possibly involves revenge or the deadly outcome of early trauma, but the film does the job of creating an interesting visual sphere with the help of directing techniques and scene transitions. Moving in and out of shots with the beautiful cinematography of Norway, Uthaug manages to tell an exciting tale with a constantly changing cinema lens. Using the camera to tell the story from the character's perspective with close-ups and shaky angling delivers the believability and the use of sunshine to transition between acts is effective.

Despite an almost total lack of make-up and bloody deaths "Cold Prey," will likely leave a lasting effect after watching this Norwegian, horror tale. Already a sequel "Cold Prey 2," is currently making the festival circuit, but this original can be found now on DVD in North America. Check out "Cold Prey," and possibly fast forward the first thirty minutes of the film if you want your movie watching experience to begin with a bang!

7 Snowy Skulls out of 10.

A theatrical trailer for "Cold Prey (Frit Vilt)" here:


Cold Prey at IMDB

Cold Prey at Traileraddict

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