JULY 30, 2013
One of the most deplorable movies I watched over the past 6 years had to be Madness, a Wrong Turn/Texas Chainsaw ripoff from Sweden that featured, among other atrocities, a villain stomping on a pregnant woman's stomach. I don't mind extreme gore/violence when there's a point (see: Inside), but this was empty shock value built into a movie without a single original idea in its head. And had I remembered the names of the people who made it, I probably wouldn't have bothered with Blood Runs Cold, which is from the same team (albeit taking on different roles; two of the guys who co-directed Madness only produce here) and looked like a Cold Prey ripoff to boot. Luckily, my memory sucks, and while it's no classic, it proved to be a decent enough slasher, and a huge improvement over their previous feature.
Plus, it looks like Cold Prey 3 won't be coming to the US anytime soon, so this will have to do, as the killer looks almost exactly the same (snow hat, goggles, frostbitten mouth, etc) and could almost conceivably be worked into that series' mythos with little changes to the existing script (that it's from the Norwegian Cold Prey's neighbor is just a bonus). And while we've certainly seen a number of slasher/survival horror movies that have our heroes holing up inside of the killer's home, as they do here, this one gives a pretty funny/unique explanation for it - they thought it was the house they were SUPPOSED to be staying in! Taking a cue from European Vacation, a partially obscured house number causes the error, so our heroine and the old pals she meets up with in town spend the whole movie down the road from where they are supposed to be. It's actually kind of a chilling moment when she gets a text message from her manager asking where she is, that he's at the house and waiting for her.
Of course, for this to work, the killer's house has to be more or less normal - this scenario wouldn't work for say, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, with its furniture made from bones and human skin and what not. It's nice to know that not every movie killer has to live in squalor, though it's sort of disappointing that he still has an underground lair like his buddies - do they build the underground tunnels themselves, or just luck out on the real estate market? Anyway, it's that and a couple other touches that kept this one going, and since it's under 80 minutes I can't complain about it wasting much of my time or anything - that's not even enough time for 3 lives to replenish on Candy Crush.
I CAN complain about the fact that it takes a little while to get going (even factoring in that abbreviated runtime), and director Sonny Laguna rubs salt in that wound not once but twice. First, he starts at the end of the movie, showing what should be the "uh oh, the killer's not dead, see you in the sequel!" epilogue right off the bat, killing some of the suspense for no reason other than to get a kill in there. Second, and worse, when our first hero goes off and gets killed, it's off-screen! I don't mind an off-screen kill or two if they're going to use it for a surprise (i.e. without a scene of them walking into the dark and then we hear a THUD - just have someone find their body sans buildup), but when it's the first and we've been patiently waiting, it's a bummer. Luckily, the on-screen kills are practical and sufficiently gory (there's a great decapitation on the pure white snow), and I walked away impressed considering that the movie only cost 5,000 bucks.
Another red flag - as with Madness, they not only set the movie in North America for no reason (North Carolina this time) but have their very Swedish actors speaking heavily-accented English. I really don't get this one - they're obviously aware of Cold Prey, which did a pretty good job at landing US distribution despite the language barrier, so why not follow suit? It's a major distraction, and at no point do they make an effort to explain why this particular story would only work if set in North Carolina (a baffling choice to boot - why not Maine or Minnesota, locales KNOWN for isolated areas and extreme cold? North Carolina winters are typically pretty mild). Long stretches go without dialogue anyway, so it's a really dumb decision - if they're reading this, PLEASE just let your actors speak their native tongue from now on, and/or set your film IN Sweden instead of trying to pass it off as America.
Ironically, the film was picked up for distribution here by Bloody Disgusting's label, most of which is populated by foreign language films (Atrocious, Rammbock, Cold Fish, etc), so it didn't even help/hurt their chances. The DVD has a perfunctory making of and the trailer, the latter of which isn't necessary since there's not much to the movie beyond what you can tell from looking at the cover anyway. A rental to be sure, but if you're a slasher fan you'll get your Redbox money's worth, especially when you consider how dire most snowbound slasher films tend to be (Shredder, anyone?).
What say you?