SEPTEMBER 11, 2010
Interestingly, many folks on my twitter feed were discussing piracy today, as a certain independent genre film about to hit DVD has been leaked and downloaded thousands of times on the torrent sites. The argument for many of these pieces of shit is “I wanted to see it.” Well, fucking WAIT. It’ll be on DVD in two weeks. You can’t wait two weeks, you have to resort to stealing and essentially taking money out of the filmmaker’s pockets? And that’s a movie that just came out a few months ago; I’ve been waiting almost two goddamn years to see Cold Prey II (aka Fritt Vilt II), as I saw the original in January of 2009, when the sequel had already been completed.
But for whatever reason, Anchor Bay, who had released the first film here, has yet to even announce the sequel, let alone put it out (maybe it wasn’t a big seller?). The point is, rather than download the damn thing, which I could have done ages ago, I waited and waited, and when it became clear that AB (or any other US distribution company) was in no rush, I located a legitimate copy via Amazon. And I was surprised to see how many people never thought to just look there – I hardly had to “dig”, yet I got a few “where’d you find it?” type comments. It’s really sad that the mentality for so many fans is “out of sight, out of mind”, but it’s better than the others, who just take whatever they don’t want to wait and/or pay for.
Well, enough of that. Cold Prey II is a pretty great sequel, and that sentiment should be shared by anyone else who appreciated the first film’s old school, straight up slasher thrills. Especially considering the approach here, which takes place exactly where the first one left off and is set largely in a hospital – sound familiar? But unlike Rick Rosenthal’s inferior sequel, this one is just as scary/suspenseful as the original. It works as an extension – it’s not trying to “one up” the original. The body count is about the same, the kills are just as basic, and it expands the backstory just enough to keep it interesting but still leaving plenty of room for future entries (though I understand the next one is actually a prequel, so oh well).
And granted it has been a while, but I was very surprised to discover that the film had a different director. Mats Steinberg takes over for Roar Uthaug (who apart from contributing some of the story, appears to have no involvement here), but he’s just as skilled a filmmaker. The film looks beautiful, and like his predecessor, he gets some good use out of the 2.35 compositions. And he wrings some great suspense in the first act out of a clever misdirect and (at least in my case) a lack of 100% accurate memory of the original. See, I remembered that there were 5 kids, and an old guy living nearby, plus the killer, for a total of 7 people. The final girl lived, so that leaves a body count of 6. At the beginning of this film, they find 5 bodies, which are taken to the hospital, while 2 cops stick around, investigating the carnage at the hotel. But we don’t see the bodies clearly, and I couldn’t remember if the old guy got tossed into the crevasse with everyone else. In short, I wasn’t sure if the killer was with the other bodies at the hospital, or already up and about and ready to kill these two hapless deputies. So I got an extra little bit of unexpected early suspense here – very nice.
Once again, the characters are actually likeable. There’s an awkward would-be romance between a nurse and a deputy that I found quite charming, and the cop who is investigating the original disappearance of Geir Olav Brath (the killer) when he was a young kid is interesting to watch as well. And the lovely Ingrid Berdal returns as Jannicke, and here is where the Halloween II comparison actually sort of helps the movie. Because instead of letting her spend the entire thing in a bed, zoned out of her mind, she actually becomes a sort of Ripley-lite, hellbent on killing the guy that killed all of her friends. Also unlike Halloween II, they introduce a worthy new final girl type, one of the nurses at the hospital. Part of the problem with Halloween II is that it’s just a lot of time killing until Laurie finally gets out of bed, as the new female characters were all obvious fodder. But I actually believed this girl could take over for Jannicke if she was incapacitated, which allows for the scenes where they are in danger to work far better than most slasher films that put their lead characters in danger.
I was also tickled by one of the hospital guards looking at a website on how to solve a Rubik’s cube, because I’m pretty sure it’s the same one I used when I was “training” myself to solve them. I can now get very close to solving one on my own!
As for the killer, he’s a little more interesting this time. He’s played by a different guy, one who seems a bit more lean/tall than his predecessor (again, it’s been a while), and for the most part he sheds some of the bulk on his costume (the hood, for example), which I think is a good choice – he’s much more “action figure ready” here. Sometimes it seems like he’s needlessly going out of his way to carry out a kill (what’s with the wire/pulley thing?), but I liked that it didn’t seem that they designed the kills first and figured out the rest of the movie later. Sure, they might not be as visually exciting, but the low-key approach keeps the movie grounded, and more importantly, scary.
And they still leave some up to your non-Norwegian imagination, but they do a better job than whoever translated the original in providing text for newspaper headlines that are important to the plot. I am convinced there’s a big chunk of the back-story that I’m missing because they don’t bother to translate newspapers and other on-screen text, but at least they do a few here. The 3rd one will supposedly go into the killer’s childhood (great... what’s Norwegian for “Love Hurts”?), so hopefully all answers will be revealed then. I should note, the DVD supposedly also Chinese and Russian subs, but you’ll need the subtitle button on your remote to access them, as the main menu just has “Play” and “Scene Selection” as your options (luckily, the English subs default to on). Also, it made a terrible grinding sound in my regular player, but played fine on my PS3.
The 3rd film is hitting theaters in Norway in a few weeks, so who knows how long it will take for a legitimate release (import or not) to be available to us poor American schmoes. Since it’s a prequel I’m not as excited anyway, but I’m happy to report Cold Prey II lives up to and in some areas (pace) improves on the original, and hopefully AB will come to their senses soon so that you’re not forced to buy imports (I also miss the copious bonus features on the first film’s disc, since this one is barebones).
What say you?