Anchor Bay // 2008 // 97 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 23rd, 2009
Prepare for your final descent.
A lot of big talk on the DVD case: "The most perfect slasher movie ever made," "spectacularly scary," "if you think this is going to be the usual 'trapped teens stalked by a maniac' movie, you're dead wrong." Can this horror import measure up to these accolades?
Not really, but we'll get to that later.
Here's the set-up: five young friends embark on a thrilling snowboard run in the middle of nowhere, but when one of the guys snaps his leg in two the group is forced to take refuge in an abandoned hotel resort. A night of improvised drinking and camaraderie is curtailed when an anonymous whacko shows up and starts killing the kids off one at a time with a pick-axe.
Cold Prey is certainly a serviceable thriller and worth a look for anyone interested in the slasher genre, but it's far from the next coming of hack'em-ups. I love the setting, the characters aren't unlikable, and the atmosphere director Roar Uthaug (greatest director name of all time) creates is filled with tension and unease, but there is just too much adherence to formula. Going in, what I thought was to be a departure from the same product the horror mill has churned out for years and years, turned out to be quite familiar.
Like I said, not unlikable, but in no way do they stand out. No matter how much time is devoted building up their characters -- and it is considerable; I think it's 40 minutes until the first killing -- they never eclipse that "cannon fodder" designation. I wasn't actively rooting for them to get slaughtered, but I wasn't shedding any tears over their expiration.
A 90-pound girl who can hold her own in a grappling contest with a man twice her size? Of course!
He's big and faceless and moves really, really slow and is utterly indestructible except when said 90-pound girl gets her hands on him. His back-story is fuzzy, though I suspect if I sat down and gave it serious thought I'd be unmoved by his reveal.
Cold Prey squeezes most of its horror from the tenseness and claustrophobia of the surroundings, as well as a couple of well-executed jump scenes. The actual slashing is more of the implied sort. You'll see a swinging pick-axe coming at your face and some off-screen attacks and one girl does get smacked around pretty vividly, but overall this is a surprisingly bloodless adventure.
Anchor Bay serves up a fine DVD. The video quality (2.35:1) is pristine and the 5.1 surround (Norwegian) is active. There's a stereo English dubbed track, but the voiceover is corny; stick with the original track and turn on the subtitles. Extras: a storyboarded alternate ending, a robust making-of documentary, featurettes on the visual FX, rehearsal footage, bloopers, a music video, trailers and two short films.
Cold Prey is a good slasher, expertly mounted, but ultimately forgettable.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Norwegian)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Alternate Ending
* Short Films
* Music Video