When JennyD and I were discussing our top ten final girl list, we were very sad that Jannicke, the excellent final girl from the Cold Prey series (aka Fritt Vilt, which right now has two movies available in the US, with a third installment on the way) couldn’t make it into the top ten. But she was a pretty clear #11. Cold Prey is a great example of the lean, mean slasher film that flourished in the 80s, but with some additions to make it more than just a knockoff of an old style.
A brief summary (from imdb.com): Jannicke, Morten Tobias, Eirik, Mikael and Ingunn are on a snowboarding vacation in Jotunheimen. They are forced to take shelter in an abandoned hotel when Morten Tobias breaks his leg and their car is too far away for them to reach within nightfall. They quickly discover that the hotel was closed in the seventies due to the disappearance of the managers’ son. Unknown to them, someone is still living in the hotel, and getting home, or even surviving the stay, isn’t as easy as they believe.
Cold Prey isn’t really breaking any major new ground in the slasher subgenre; in fact, it’s pretty traditional. Bunch of kids go out to have a good time in the snow and come face to face with a masked, hooded killer who won’t let any of them leave alive. It even has a deformed child who is thought dead, but it turns out instead he’s the killer. Jason, anyone? But the movie doesn’t feel derivative of that series. If anything, it sticks closer to first two Halloween movies than anything else (the second film takes place in a hospital directly after the events of the first movie, a la Halloween 2). Also like the Halloween series, both the lead and the supporting characters are likeable and developed enough that you want them to survive, even though you know that’s never going to happen. A movie with the word “prey” in the title isn’t going to have a high survival rate.
I won’t lie that I love trapped in the snow movies – there’s just something about all that blank white-ness that, when done correctly, just adds so much to the atmosphere of isolation. In a genre where most films are ostensibly set in the middle of nowhere, that’s crucial. And this film is beautifully shot, with gorgeous, sprawling winter landscapes changing to the claustrophobic, dim and dusty corridors of the abandoned ski lodge. The lighting and camera work together create a terrific atmosphere, whether it’s an ultra-white day shot surrounded in snow or the long shadows of the ski lodge.
While the actors all perform well, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal as Jannicke is the clear standout. Strong, intelligent and resourceful, Jannicke might fit into the tropes of the final girl, but she’s definitely from the new school. This girl is a fighter, and her strength and will to survive makes the stalk/fight scenes more compelling. However, as tough as she is, Berdal doesn’t hesitate to show the mental and emotional strain the character suffers as Jannicke loses her friends and then must try to survive on her own (this is even more well developed in the second film, but that’s for another review). It’s almost cliché now to say that the final girl is a tough survivor, but Jannicke deserves a special mention among all these ladies.
Cold Prey isn’t anything new, but it is a beautifully shot film with above average acting and character development for the genre. Definitely worth checking out.