Cold Prey (2006)

Triangle Herre hær kjæm te å gjør littegrainnj vondt. E du klar? Æ tælle te tre.


And no, it wasn’t my keyboard that just had a stroke. It’s the Norwegian for This will hurt a little. Are you ready? I’m counting to three. Also in the dialect of trøndersk, just to mention.


The year was 2006, on Friday the 13th of October when we got our very first Norwegian slasher, titled Fritt Vilt (with the international title Cold Prey). Yay! So this wasn’t just any slasher you see, it was a cultural event that would have its new chapter in Norwegian film history. Yes I know, it’s quite strange that the country that had the biggest export of black metal, church burnings and Satan didn’t have any horror films to showcase until after the millennium. What held us back while the wave of New French Extremity was already near its peak, is a good question.


We, of course, had Villmark (Dark Woods) from 2003, which leans more into the thriller section, and from there on we have to rewind way, waaaay back to the year 1958 (!) with De Dødes Tjern (Lake of the Dead), which has not aged particularly well. What was left was decades of a pretty stiff, wooden and a ridiculously conservative film industry which had not much to offer other than sloggish, forgettable and painfully dry obscure drama films made for god knows who. Yawn. There were some very few exceptions much thanks to Ivo Caprino (RIP). So aside from that, a film like Cold Prey was a big fresh air in my tiny gnome country. A game changer and a complete shift on how films in Norway would be made from here on, which also included other genres.


With the success and the cultural impact of Cold Prey, it also opened the door to several young genre filmmakers to show their muscles, most notably Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow) and André Øvredal (Troll Hunter). Roar Uthaug, along with the two mentioned, would also eventually work in Hollywood with various outcomes. But it’s also valid to say that we have our fair share of terrible, shitty horror movies and the last ten years hasn’t been much to be excited about. So I’m not being a blind patriot waving my flag here. There’s also several Norwegian horror movies that seem to be impossible to find anywhere due to lack of release and distribution, so for all I know there could be a hidden gem somewhere. The only titles I’ve seen which are worth watching from recently are Project Z and The Innocents, both from 2021. And soon Norway will give birth to its first sea monster flick called Kraken, which will start filming in the Norwegian coast later this year. So we’ll see how that one turns out.


Cold Prey follows a group of youngsters who are going snowboarding in the mountains of Jotunheimen. The sky is blue, the air is crisp with even some sprinkles of love, and life is good… until one of the poor bastards fall and breaks his ankle. Luckily, they find an abandoned hotel nearby where they take shelter. And nothing bad happens here. After spending the night, they get met by a rescue team and The End. I’m joking, of course. You know that they’re in deep shit when one of the in-love couple checks into one of the rooms that have the numbers 2 3 7. Redrum!


It’s not the biggest surprise that they’re not alone in the hotel. How boring would that be. We already learn in the opening sequence that the place has a dark history where a kid once disappeared under some questionable circumstances. Our group of friends also learn that a mysterious person called the Mountain Man lives like a hermit somewhere in the dark corners of the hotel, and kills anyone who has the nerve to trespass.


If the premise sounds familiar, you’re not wrong. On paper, Cold Prey is as formulaic as it can be, which basically follows the same footsteps of the most generic slasher films you’ve seen hundreds of already. There’s nothing much new on the surface here, nor was it back in 2006, and the film’s biggest sin is that it’s pretty tame with lackluster kills. The brutality from the early films of Alexandre Aja and other extreme Frenchmen are worlds apart, just to make that clear. Us slow Norwegians still have a lot to learn in the splatter and gore department, unfortunately.


And I almost forgot to mention that there’s no cringe sex scene here, so kudos for at least breaking that cliché.


That being said, there’s more to enjoy here. The setting itself gives the movie an eerie, grim vibe and the acting is solid. Ingrid Bolsø Berdal stands out as the heroine who can also handle a shotgun. The story is intriguing enough with a pacing that keeps the entertaining value on track. The film also looks fabulous, where the bleak coldness really spices up the claustrophobic tension and atmosphere. Cold Prey was filmed at Leirvassbu, a tourist cabin in Jotunheimen where the actors lived during the filming. So I wouldn’t be surprised if the isolated and stone-cold surroundings messed a little with their heads.


So overall, despite not being more ballsy with the violence, Cold Prey is an entertaining watch with some unique scenery, great suspense and a fine addition to winter horror. Still, I must be honest enough to say that it would work more as a horror film for beginners. This is also the directorial debut of Roar Uthaug, who in 2018 made Tomb Raider. If you want more of the primitive Norwegian landscape, check out Escape (2012), also directed by Uthaug.


The film got two sequels: Cold Prey II, which is more of a Halloween II (1981) ripoff, and I don’t remember much of Cold Prey III other than it was a prequel. The first two is on DVD from Anchor Bay and Shout Factory. Kos dåkk!


Cold Prey


Director: Roar Uthaug
Writers: Thomas Moldestad, Martin Sundland, Roar Uthaug
Original title: Fritt Vilt
Country & year: Norway, 2006
Actors: Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Rolf Kristian Larsen, Tomas Alf Larsen, Endre Martin Midtstigen, Viktoria Winge, Rune Melby, Erik Skjeggedal, Tonie Lunde, Hallvard Holmen



Tom Ghoul













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