Monday, October 4, 2010

The Red Eye Report's 2010 October Horrorthon #4: "Cold Prey"

In the terrifying tradition of Extreme Ops and Ski Patrol, Cold Prey takes place during a wintry jaunt gone decidedly awry. Norway's picturesque mountains are the order of the day, and despite a small whiff of sexual tension in the group, five farm-fresh stereotypes are prepared to party themselves purple. But the good times are cut short when the token nerd (Rolf Kristian Larsen) takes a dive a busts up his leg somethin' awful. The gang finds shelter in an abandoned ski lodge, where they discover that their ordeal is just beginning. Someone's been watching these kids ever since they took to the slopes, and while they wait out the bad weather before searching for help, this cunning killer plans on serving as their own personal tour guide to hell and back.

Cold Prey's back cover comes adorned with promises of intelligence, intensity, and other terms that are hard to come by in the horror genre. Lord knows how many mainstream movies get the hell hyped out of them just for not sucking, so imagine what happens when horror fans wheel out the pedestal. But since Cold Prey is particularly ballsy and insistent that it's not typical slasher fodder, the fact that it totally freaking is comes as even less of a shock. I've previously mentioned how I always assume that other countries know better and avoid the mistakes America's movies are built on making. But with some Japanese ghost movies tailored to fit our perceptions of the genre, I guess it's no surprise that Cold Prey is extra careful that it never develop something as silly as an actual identity.

That's not to say there's no audience for Cold Prey, as its accolades and two follow-up features have demonstrated there is. But even Prom Night made a profit, and while Cold Prey is cut from less neutered, intelligence-insulting cloth, there's almost zero entertainment value here. The film is minimalist to a fault and cuts corners wherever possible, be they in the location or dialogue departments. Characters milling around is mistaken for tension, grumbled rants about one's love life is what passes for character development, and a half-assed wraparound twist is meant to leave us with one last surprise (which it might have, were it relevant to the story in any shape or form). There's just nothing here that other, superior horror movies haven't executed with more style, imagination, and energy. This doesn't even have the self-referential edge of a Dead Snow (which was shallow, yes, but it was there).

I'm not mad that Cold Prey didn't live up to Ain't It Cool News' claims of perfection; I'm mad that it didn't even try. Sure, the self-promotion didn't help, but the lack of a drive to do anything except C+ its way through Slashers 101 did even more damage. Like the countless other thrillers that shooting dark hallways is a one-way ticket to suspense, Cold Prey is dull, derivative, and, worst of all, sorely mistaken.

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