Friday, July 22, 2011

Norwegian Horror Spotlight: Fritt Vilt 1

So, ladies and gentlemen, it's time for some more Norwegian horror with your friend Slowzombie. This time, I will be having a look at Fritt Vilt, or Cold Prey, as it's known internationally. Faithful readers of this blog might remember that I had a couple of none too kind words about the movies, and while a lot of my criticisms still stand, the movies have come to be regarded somewhat higher in my mind since I first saw them. If this is just optimism or nostalgia or sheer boredom on my part, I can't tell, but I suppose we will find out.

First out is the original, Fritt Vilt I, a very Norwegian slasher, in that it follows a gang of five twentysomethings on a skiing trip in the Norwegian mountains. One of them manages to break a leg, and they shack up in a creepy abandoned hotel. Now, I'm not so sure there are all that many creepy abandoned hotels in the mountains of my motherland, but otherwise, it's pretty perfect for slashers, especially since there are some areas of the countries with precariously poor cellphone reception, in addition to being very remote, obviously. Needless to say, the creepy hotel isn't entirely abandoned, and our heroes find themselves chased by a masked maniac with an ice-axe. Fun times are had by all.
Our heroes

Now, despite the things that are kind of iffy with the film, I do mean that the characterization is way above average for a slasher. As far as I'm concerned, there's only one disposable satellite character, and although there's no high drama, one does get the impression that the characters actually have a purpose other than walking high-pressurized blood bags, which is nice. They even have a bit with the resident alpha male jerk having a bit of a sympathetic side, but that could also be viewed as a nice way to get him into trouble in a convenient time, if one were a cynical sort of person, that is.
There's pretty much no way this could turn out to be a bad idea

Now, when it comes to scares, you'd think this'd be right up my alley, what with it being in an isolated place with halfway sympathetic characters, set in a hotel even. Yes, my old horror nemesis, the hotel returns. I don't have no idea why, but I find hotels unnerving at best, and utterly terrifying at worst, or possibly best. However, the dilapidated nature of the hotel kind of takes the edge off things, for whatever reason. There's also a bit of our old friend, the jump scare and the blink-and-you'll miss it flyby, which is par for the course, this is a slasher after all.
No way, no how, no sir.

 However, there's a pretty cool horror moment where the blonde, Ingunn goes to take a shower , but notices something, and, not knowing the basic rules of slasher movies, poor thing, goes to investigate. Of course, the "something" is the killer, and he's out to do some killing. I don't really like the resolution of this scene, but the buildup is pretty cool. The foot shot is rather unusual, and I don't know why I find it so fascinating. Had I shared certain tastes with Mr. Tarantino, it would have made sense, but I chalk it up to it being somewhat unusual for a slasher to try to build tension like that. Oh, and surprising nobody, the blond girl dies first.

Pictured: The foot in question. Can you feel the tension?

On the topic of scenes, there's also one surprisingly funny one playing around with some tried but true slasher tropes and a can of something red. It's always a bit depressing when horror movie writers understand comedy better than so called "comedy" writers, but I won't get into a rant about my least favorite writer/directors right now. What I will say, though, is that it makes it a bit jarring when the next scene with blood, which is the very next one has blood that looks a bit less than blood than the canned goods, or maybe that's just my Hollywood-addled mind.

The biggest problem with this movie is probably the villain. The killer has no name, and pretty much no personality past the little backstory he's given, and the backstory is that particular kind of vague that doesn't build up around the menace of the villain as much as it raises so many questions as to distract from the horror, a problem I seem to remember persisting  into the sequel. The killer has precious little personality or uniqueness, even for a masked killer, which is a shame, because the characterization otherwise is, as mentioned before, pretty good. It's to the point that I'd almost be more interested in some weird 127 hours-esque scenario where the only killer is the environment. Still, slashers gonna slash, and all that. Oh, and may I add that a slasher movie using "All My Friends Are Dead" by Turbonegro for the closing credits is kind of clever.
Play us off, Hank.

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