There is an implacable aura to COLD PREY other modern slashers may not find relief in purely because it is Norwegian. Not that Roar Uthaug’s film (top that name, by the way; I feel manlier just saying it out loud) gains any particular insight by its residence that would have gone undreamed written in any other tongue, but it’s stale first third is ventilated from a Yank perspective by a country of origin not known for its slasher pictures. Once the co-ed band of skiers are established within the setting of an abandoned lodge atop a snow cap, the cultural barrier dissipates and what remains is an above average game of mouse and masked colossus with a pick axe.
If you ever wondered what a slasher from Norway would be like, and I can’t imagine why one wouldn’t concern themselves with such important matters, turns out it is exactly like an American slasher. FRITT VILT is eating at a Subway in Europe. It’s familiar, you know what’s on the menu, but the people behind the counter speak a different language. Okay, so maybe that part is none too different. They serve beer, though, so that’s cool, right? Either way it’s the same and not the same and that latter not grants an inexplicably fresh air to the proceedings.
The opening thirty offer nothing new to the table. Two couples and the perpetual, amiable geek third wheel go on a ski trip. Third wheel breaks his leg DANTE’S PEAK style, group must find shelter. At shelter the obvious candidate for final girl steps up and pulls a Billy Mays, Mighty Bonding third wheel’s wound shut. Of course they’re not out of the woods snow yet, as the opening credits told us said shelter was the site of a youg boy’s live snow burial at the hands of an unseen figure. Soon the blood flows.
What works best about FRITT VILT is not the cultural identity, rather the niche identity. This is about as adequately stocked as the contemporary slasher gets, which is neither ringing endorsement nor raging condemnation. It may lack the murderous gaze and a genuinely evasive whodunit thread throughout, but it’s fun, well paced (once the chase rolls), and intense in all the right places without being overtly nihilistic, a trait I increasingly admire in an age of horror dominated by boundary pushing.
There is a traditional cinematic quality to Roar Uthaug’s film that others of its ilk lack, a trait no doubt aided by the SHINNING invoked setting and a full orchestral score. This isn’t a typical grungy, hard (but not that hard) rock loving dead teenager film. Yes, it’s framework is typical, but it’s dearth of unique characters is supplemented by a unique setting and a gratifying ending that banks not on gratuity but empathy. FRITT VILT is derivative and familiar, but it’s also robust and modest and conservative, resulting in scales tipped toward a quality worth rewarding down the line.