Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cold Prey 3 (2010)

Original title: Fritt vilt III

It's the end of the 80s, so quite some time before the occurrences in Cold Prey and Cold Prey 2 took place. The first group of young ones ever to get slaughtered by the franchise's killer (oops, spoiler) is making a short camping trip to the woods around the empty hotel of ill repute. They had initially planned to stay inside the hotel for the night, but at least one of the girls, Siri (Julie Rusti) has a finely developed sense for the creepy, and doesn't want to stay there. In a surprising twist never before encountered in the history of slasher cinema, her friends aren't total douches and listen to her; this film not taking place in the winter like its predecessors probably makes that decision a bit easier.

Not that staying outside helps the meat any: in an exciting twist, at this point in time, our killer is hiding out with his uncle in his hut in the woods, so meat and killer meet soon enough and killing ensues. Uncle isn't very happy when he finds out what his dear nephew is up to, but he isn't that much saner himself and is pretty fine with five dead people as long as he can keep Siri as his pleasure slave. There's a second uncle, too. He's the local cop and doesn't know what his family is up to (or in the anorak killer's case, that he's even still alive).

The cop has some vague ideas about something being wrong, but will he find out soon enough to be able to help anyone? Or will the victims be able to help themselves, what with them having two girls who could qualify as final ones in the form of Siri and her friend Hedda (Ida Marie Bakkerud)?

One does not go into the third entry into a slasher franchise that until now had even in its best moments (that would have been the second half of the first movie and no part of the second) distinguished itself by giving disturbingly generic ideas a pretty sheen of professionalism expecting great improvements in quality or ideas; in fact, after the mess of regurgitated, badly connected clichés that was Cold Prey 2, I went into this prequel expecting to be annoyed by it.

Much to my surprise, Cold Prey 3 turned out to be a pretty fine film. Sure, it's still a full-blooded slasher with all that entails, but it seems as if its new creative team - neither director Mikkel Braenne Sandemose nor the two screenwriters Lards Gudmestad and Peder Fuglerud had anything to do with what came before - spent a bit of thought on how to use the standard elements of the slasher movie (and a few bits and pieces of the backwoods horror film) without making a slasher movie by the numbers.

The addition of the anorak killer's uncles to the plot shakes things up more than I would have hoped for, making it possible for the film to take a few actually unexpected turns, that in their turn help to build a sense of suspense people not named John Carpenter often have a hard time creating in this sub-genre.

Sandemose prefers classic thriller techniques to jump scares, and while there's no shying away from violence, blood and downer endings on display, Cold Prey 3 is not at all interested in gore for gore's sake (that was already one of the better features of the first two films in the series for me). Done well - and this film does it well - it's usually more exciting to watch people trying to avoid getting slaughtered than watching an assortment of creative kills.

It's also pretty useful for the film's effect - giving its audience more to be interested in than the next kill - that it's victim characters aren't of the totally annoying sort your typical viewer would want to see die as fast as possible. I'm not talking especially deep characterisation here, but the film does avoid having characters like The Slut, The Jock, and The Practical Joker; sure, there's The Guy With The Smiths T-Shirt, but that's good taste in music for you.

So, while Cold Prey 3 won't set the world on fire with brilliance, it's a pretty good entry into the slasher genre. It's not retro (and that although it's taking place in the 80s), it's not lazily ironic, it's not pretending its audience is full of idiots, it's suspenseful - what more could I ask for from a slasher movie made in 2010?


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