Gang of semi-to-very attractive teens/twentysomethings + remote mountain lodge = slasher flick.
And the Norwegian horror movie "Cold Prey" doesn't really deviate from what has worked for many other such movies. Fortunately some solid acting and some lovely stylistic flourishes add a unique look to this movie, but in the end it's neither more nor less than it appears -- a maniac in an old house, pickaxing people to death.
Five twentysomethings have come to the ultimate mountain for some snowboarding and skiing... until Morten Tobias (Rolf Kristian Larsen) breaks his leg two minutes in. The only shelter is a long-abandoned mountain lodge, which also has a convenient stash of food and booze. They drink, party and make out that evening, since they can't get back to the car before morning.
You can guess what happens next: After backing off on sex with Mikal (Endre Martin Midtstigen), Ingunn (Viktoria Winge) is horribly pickaxed to death, and Eirik (Tomas Alf Larsen) is caught on his way back. And Mikal and Jannicke (Ingrid Bols° Berdal) finally uncover the facts -- there's a deranged maniac living in the lodge, and he's been killing everyone who comes there (and apparently taking their wedding rings).
As a slasher flick, "Cold Prey" is fairly tame -- the goriest and most horrific stuff comes when director Roar Uthaug keeps pointing the camera at Morten Tobias' horribly fractured leg (complete with "SUPER GLUE?!" shots). And the whole movie simply drips with atmosphere -- grimy shadowy basements, pale dreary light, cold concrete hallways.
It kind of makes up for the fact that the plot is strictly A-to-B, with the assorted people getting picked off one by one by the Evil Masked Killer and running frantically around the house. Uthaug lovingly splashes the sets with gouts of blood and pickaxes coming out of nowhere, and a masked killer who grunts and swings indiscriminately.
But there are a few moments where it rises above the genre -- the characters are smart enough to barricade themselves in a room, and one of the more gruesome killings is paired (oddly enough) with bittersweet, vaguely religious music. And the adrenaline-charged climax atop an icy crevasse (with one of the characters waking underneath a pile of corpses) is nice work indeed.
The actors all do very nice work -- Midtstigen does an excellent impression of a guy in shock, Winge has a brilliant final scene, and Larsen is excellent as the dork with unexpected courage. Berdal has some problems with looking horrified/terrified (she looks like she's trying not to laugh, actually), but is quite good when required to be a hardcore fighter or the mature, sensible one.
And I'll say this -- Uthaug comes up with a very realistic slasher villain. Rune Melby appears in about one minute of the whole movie, but his bewildered eyes and body language say it all. Too bad his backstory makes no sense.
"Cold Prey" is your basic slasher movie -- albeit in Norwegian -- but it does have some nice moments that set it apart from the pack.