The Cold Prey Trilogy: (Ch)Op-Ed #19

Cold Prey was one of those slashers that surprised the hell out of me. A 2000’s Norwegian slasher? I can’t stress how good the first two are. However, finding them to stream is a challenge, so support physical media and get your copies today.  

Cold Prey aka Fritt Vilt (Open Season) (2006) 


5 young Norwegians head up to the mountains to snowboard. One breaks his leg and it’s getting dark soon, so they spend the night in a big, abandoned hotel, closed 30 years ago. They are not alone. 

IMDb: 6.2 

Rotten Tomatoes: 55% 

Tagline: You’ll Catch Your Death. 

The first thing I noticed about this film was that it took 2 years to film and another 9 months for special effects and editing. Part of this was due to the harsh environments of shooting in the Scandanavian Mountains where temps could reach –25 degrees Celsius (-13F). Director Roar Uthaug would go on to direct The Wave (2015), Tomb Raider (2018), and Troll (2022). I can tell you, watching this movie made me shiver. It LOOKS cold.  

It was this film that featured the immensely addictive song “All My Friends are Dead,” which turned me on to the Norwegian rock band Turbonegro. It plays during the end credits. Overall, it has a great Scandanavian rock music soundtrack as well as a fantastic score that pulls the correct emotion out of you at the correct time. 

The story is fairly generic, but it’s the setting, the style, the tension in which Uthaug films it, that truly cements itself as an excellent addition to the genre and sets it apart from other generic slashers. The colors are all pale and muted, with white, black, and grey being dominant. And the bleakness of the vast snow-covered environment compared to the beautiful antiquated and abandoned lodge is staggering. 

The effects are great, too. The dude’s broken leg and the subsequent setting of the injury are fantastic, gory, and wince-worthy. I can’t imagine the dread and hopelessness of a bone jutting out of my leg, stranded miles away from civilization, high in the mountains. There are good kills, great blood, and awesome setups. It’s a high-quality slasher. 

For the most part, other than the two stereotypical horny people looking for a place to bone, the characters are likable. The fact that they go into room 237 shouldn’t be lost on any horror fan.  

There are tense moments, jump scares, a great atmosphere of dread that couples with the music nicely, and plenty of good-looking people. Small cast means small body count, but Uthaug makes good use of it.  

The one drawback is the fairly generic killer. He’s kind of similar to the hook dude in I Know What You Did Last Summer. Big winter coat. Ski goggles. It’s a nice little backstory and reveal for him as well. He’s just not very memorable. He won’t invade your nightmares any time soon.  

7.0/10 Stab Wounds 

Cold Prey 2: Resurrection aka Fritt Vilt 2 (2008) 


Jannicke wakes up in the hospital. All of her friends are dead. As she walks through the dark corridors, she thinks she is left alone. But the nightmare isn’t over yet. 

IMDb: 6.1 

Rotten Tomatoes: 53% 

Tagline: The Nightmare Continues… 

Uthaug would write the second film, but stepping into the director’s chair is Mats Stenberg, in his lone directorial effort. The Norwegian critics loved it, and it was an enormous success at the box office there, with the biggest opening weekend of all time by a Norwegian film. 

Cold Prey II goes the Halloween II route, beginning immediately after the first film’s finale. I love it when films do this, for it feels like one big, long movie. We all watch these 3-hour superhero films, well what about putting these two together and making one great 3-hour slasher film? 

Already I can tell the differences between the two directors. Gone are the muted dark colors, replaced with a totally different color palette, rich and vibrant. It’s not bad or a detractor, it’s just brighter with much lighter colors, including reds, aqua blues, and yellows. 

Ingrid Bolso Berdal returns as Jannicke, the lone survivor from the first film, barely hanging onto life and rescued by a police officer and brought to a hospital. When they bring the mountain man, presumed to be gravely injured, back to the hospital for an autopsy, the killings begin again, and we get our second callback to Halloween II. 

If you follow the rules of a sequel from Scream 2, “the body count is always bigger, the death scenes are always much more elaborate, and never, ever, under any circumstances, assume the killer is dead.” We got 4 deaths in the first one and 7 in this one. We have dream sequences with Jamie Lee, I mean, Jannicke, where she is getting killed. We spend our time on more stalking scenes and setting up our next gruesome kill. And that damn killer takes some abuse in this movie. I think this is a successful sequel, then, don’t you? 

Sure, it’s not as stylish, or as fresh or original, but it’s every bit as fun as the first one. The kills are great, the score is great, the story progresses nicely, and the atmosphere is once again one of impending dread. Unfortunately, we don’t get to know many of the new characters very much before they start getting offed, but we have to increase that body count in the sequel, dammit!  

Seek this one out and watch them back-to-back! 

7.0/10 Stab Wounds 

Cold Prey III aka Fritt Vilt III (2010) 


Takes place in the 80’s where a group of teenagers go to visit an abandoned hotel, only to find themselves hunted by a psychotic killer through the Norwegian woods. 

IMDb: 5.1 

Rotten Tomatoes: 15% 

Taking over the reins for the prequel is Mikkel Braenne Sandemose, marking his first foray into feature filmmaking. This prequel is challenging to find, not having an official dubbed/subtitled release for the US. It has, however, been widely available as a bootleg.  

One thing we can be thankful for is the director’s choice of returning to the subdued and muted color palette. Once again, greys, dark greens, black, and browns are the dominant colors. They truly set the atmosphere and tone for the film.  

The music continues to be a driving force, with eerie whistles and frightening horns, all accentuating the onscreen action. The score is critical to the ambience of the film, perfectly painting a picture that allows us to immerse ourselves in the challenges the characters face. 

The problem I have with prequels, is that you normally know where the story is going to go. It’s simply a backstory for the killer, in which we know he will not die. We end up seeing what made him such a monster, which in turn paints him as a sympathetic character, negating all the horrible things he has done in earlier installments.  

This brings me to the rules of a prequel. According to Game Rant, the rules of a prequel are as follows: tell a story that actually needs to be told. You can’t coast by on franchise recognition alone. There needs to be character arcs worth investing in for audiences to really care. 

I don’t know that the character of the Mountain Man in the previous entries is that compelling of a character that his origin story must be told. Were we all yearning for an explanation as to why he was who he was? Didn’t we already kind of get that when it was revealed his parents were the ones responsible for his disappearance? The franchise, while well known in the Scandanavian countries, is not well known in the United States, so resting on it’s name is not going to wok here. And finally, are there any characters in this movie worth a damn? 

It’s decent. It’s unnecessary. It’s a little more sophmoric and less intelligent. The kills and gore are great, but it’s nowhere near as good as the first two. But does that make it any less fun? Lower your expectations, and you just might find this to be an enjoyable little flick. 

6.0/10 Stab Wounds 

In 2017, WWE Studios purchased the rights to make and English language remake, but there is not much information on this since the announcement. For now, watch all three of these if you can find them. They’re amazing slashers.  

About RetRo(n) 61 Articles
I like the 80s, slasher films, Italian directors, Evil Ed, Trash and Nancy, Ripley and Private First Class Hudson, retro crap but not SyFy crap, old school skin, Freddy and Savini, Spinell and Coscarelli, Andre Toulon, and last, but not least, Linda Blair.