Friday, September 18, 2009

Norwegian Horror Fest

So, last night I sat down to watch 3 Norwegian horror you do.

Dead Snow
Nazi Zombies. There I said it. Dead Snow is a film with Nazi Zombies. Having heard that myself I had high hopes for it, but alas despite some original deaths and a few comical moments, Dead Snow is just another zombie film, kind of a Shaun of the Dead, only not as funny and Norwegian.

A group of friends set off into the snow covered mountainside (far from civilized society) for a fun weekend of skiing and whatever else it is you do out in the snow. On their first night a weird local shows up at their cabin, criticizes their coffee making ability, drinks their beer and relays the story of "them thar hills" and what happened during the war. Of course, everything he is telling them is true and before you know it all hilarity ensues.

The film is frenetic in its editing, which I found quite distracting. The story is not made abundantly clear until almost three quarters through, where the penny (quite literally) drops.
I also take issue with horror films that make references to other horror films and how silly they are and then falls into exactly the same pitfalls it was previously criticizing, only without the sense that the irony is supposed to be comedy.

Lets face it though, Dead Snow has a pretty decent premise and even if the acting is a little shoddy and the editing, pacing and story are all fairly out there it is still a great way to kill 90 minutes and although you may come away from the film feeling a little cheated there are enough memorable moments to overlook the films more obvious flaws.

Cold Prey
A group of friends set off into the snow covered mountainside (far from civilized society) for a fun weekend of skiing and whatever else it is you do out in the snow. (deja vu) That is of course, until one of your party breaks his leg miles from anywhere. The group stumble upon an abandoned ski resort and decide to spend the night, over the course of which one of their party is brutally slain. It turns out that Skiiers and snowboarders have gone missing in these parts for years and it may not have been as a result of avalanches.

Cold Prey is very much your typical horror film. It has quick camera cuts, loud noises and plenty of red herrings to try and keep the tension up, however the one thing it does have is a lack of exposition. You are never given a true motive for what the killer wants, he simply kills you and dumps your body down a crevasse. End of story.

The film is quite beautifully shot and tightly edited and has a wholly immersive soundtrack, however it has quite a number of obvious and almost laughable moments of stupidity on the characters part, these detract from the story and overall leave you with a sense that the film has offered nothing new to the genre.

Spoiler Alert - If you have not seen the first film, I suggest not reading the review below.

Cold Prey II (Ressurection)
In a move reminiscent of Halloween II (the original, not the god awful Rob Zombie remake), Cold Prey II takes place immediately after the first film. Our lone surviving heroine is found and taken to hospital where she relays her fantastical tale of murder and survival to a group of unsure police officers.

With the help of the local ski patrol, they set off to confirm her story by locating the crevasse she claims her friends where dumped in. Shortly thereafter they believe her story. They retrieve her friends and the killers bodies and bring them back to the hospital, which we have learnt will be shutting down and is therefore running on a skeleton crew and has only 2 other patients.

Of course, like any good horror franchise our killer is only pretending to be dead (or at least, according to the good doctors...never died and was just in a form of hibernation thanks to the cold) Once he is back on his feet all hell breaks loose and once again our heroine must fight for he life.

The interesting thing here, is that I enjoyed the second film more than the first. It had greater tension and less "silly"plot points (although it still has all the usual cliches one could ask for). It is nicely shot with some great use of the widescreen format. The soundtrack is just as impressive as the first and the overall pacing is much nicer and fluent.

There are a few loose ends lost in the mix (we never return to the crevasse after the gruesome discovery), but on the whole this is one of the few examples I know in the horror genre, where the second film is equal to if not better than the original!

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