JANUARY 15, 2009
I wonder if the people behind really shitty “special edition” DVDs (like the recent “Anniversary Edition” of Beetlejuice, which contained nothing but 3 episodes of the cartoon that no one important from the film had anything to do with) get DVDs like Cold Prey (Norwegian: Fritt Vilt) and then feel really embarrassed about their work. I really hope so. DVD packages such as this set the standard for what can be considered a quality release, all the more impressive when you consider that it’s a low-budget Norwegian movie.
I’ll get back to the extras in a bit, but first I want to discuss the movie, which was recommended by HMAD reader Jarra Viking (thank you!). It’s funny how in the past week I have seen TWO above average slasher movies without any of the post-modern nonsense that Scream ushered in over a decade ago. Stranger, both films involve a killer with a pickaxe and feature an opening credits sequence comprised of news reports and newspaper clippings, which makes me wonder if maybe Todd Farmer and/or Patrick Lussier saw this film before making MBV3D.
The back of the DVD says that this is more than a typical ‘body count’ movie, but I’m really not sure why. It’s greatest strength is that it’s EXACTLY a body count movie, with no supernatural or twisty nonsense to sink it down. There’s a guy in a mask (actually he’s covered head to toe), brandishing a weapon, and one by one he stalks and kills four of our five kids, leaving one girl to fight back. What the hell isn’t slasher about that? I assume they mean because the killer’s identity is sort of a surprise, but then again it really sort of isn’t if you understand the concept of screen omission. I won’t spoil it for those who might be genuinely surprised, but just think about what you actually DON’T see in the opening “attack” and the answer will probably come pretty quickly.
What really worked about this was that all five kids are incredibly likeable. Spotting the Final Girl isn’t exactly a mind-bender (especially with only two girls, itself a rarity), but you’ll still want to see all of them survive. The closest any of them get to a bad trait is the guy who wants to sleep with the non-Final Girl, because he doesn’t settle for a cuddle when she gives the “it’s too soon” speech, and instead goes off to have a drink with the others. Wow, what a complete jerk.
This leads to one of the sadder moments I can recall in a slasher, at least since Scream 2 (calling Randy’s mom). After the girl is killed, we cut back to the bar area, and the Final Girl tells the Blue Balls how much Dead Girl (sorry, I suck at remembering names) really liked him and how he should be more patient, and he’s all like “you’re right, I feel like a jerk” etc. It’s a bummer, cuz she’s, you know, already dead.
Being a snowbound horror movie, I had a lot of reservations. After all, two of the all time worst slasher movies I’ve ever seen take place at ski resorts (that would be Shredder and Iced), and other resort set films are hardly better (Ice Spiders, the Die Hard knockoff Crackerjack). Really, the only one that’s any good is The Shining, and so it’s not too much of a surprise when you see “Room 237” be a focal point for the bad stuff.
I think the lodge might even have the same name (Overlook), but I can’t tell because while the subtitles are good (and every single extra is subbed as well), they don’t bother doing the newspaper clippings which tie into the killer’s backstory (maybe that alleged shocking twist would be more shocking if I had a few more details on the killer’s story). The hotel is named Ogdersnook or something like that, but since I have seemingly misplaced my Norwegian/English dictionary I don’t know what it means in God’s language.
Back to those extras though – there’s a standard making of that isn’t essential, but the look at the “Visual FX” is one of the best extras I’ve seen in years. The title is a bit misleading, as it’s a collection of four featurettes, two on the visuals, one on the sound, and another on the poster designs, but all four should be required viewing for both film buffs and budding filmmakers. The visual effects focus on image enhancement (color and such) and removing unwanted elements (best bit – having to clean some dog poop out of the otherwise pristine snowy landscape), instead of “Look at these cool aliens we made!”, so basically it explains how VFX SHOULD be used. Then we get a similar look at how the audio was enhanced and fixed, which is something you don’t see a lot of these days. But the most original one is the poster design. It’s only 90 seconds long, but you see a series of proposed posters for the film, while director Roar Uthaug explains why they were rejected (“Looks like a snowboarding movie” “This isn’t Saw in the snow.”, etc). A fascinating look at how an oft-overlooked but crucial part of selling a film to an audience can develop.
Then we get a look at how a simple scene (the kids in the car, driving to the mountain0 can change. We see their rehearsal, the scene’s first cut, and then the final cut as seen in the film. Again, this is great stuff for those who might wonder why the bootleg script they bought doesn’t reflect the finished film down to the letter. We also get an old short film from the director, and another odd, unexplained bit of two of the film’s actors walking around the ski lodge together. The other extras are good but a little more basic: trailers, a music video (the soundtrack to this movie, particularly the end credits song, is awesome), and some bloopers. The only actual disappointment is the “Alternate Ending”, which is just the movie’s ending with some storyboards edited in where more complex shots would have gone if they could have afforded it. But otherwise the extras are as entertaining as the film, and all together we’re talking about around an hour’s worth of bonus material, with almost zero worthless filler.
Another thing I want to praise. The opening credits list about 6 production companies, but we only have to watch two animated logos (and one of them, for Fantefilm, is actually a pretty great bumper). Attn: Spain and Ireland, whose films often have like 20 fucking logos - this is how you do it.
What say you?