Reviewed by Patrick Cooper
In the first Cold Prey, a burly man slaughtered a group of friends in an abandoned hotel in the mountains of southern Norway with a pickaxe. Cold Prey II kicks in with the lone survivor of the group, Jannicke (Ingrid Boldo Berdal), stunned and nearly frozen to death on the side of the road. She’s taken to a nearby hospital and the nightmare finally seems over as Jannicke begins her quiet recovery. Local authorities travel to the scene of the crime and retrieve the bodies of her friends, as well as the killer’s. All of the corpses are brought to the same hospital Jannicke is resting in and needless to say she flips the fuck out when she sees the killer’s body bag.
With the lone survivor reunited with the killer in a hospital, there’s a real Halloween II vibe going on here. This hospital staff is a little craftier than Haddonfield Memorial’s crew though. No one quite believes Jannicke’s story about the abandoned hotel and loony killer – until the bodies start piling up, of course. Although director Mats Stenberg leaves most of the gore off-screen, he uses blood splatter very, very effectively. One scene in particular in a hospital shower includes some balletic blood splatter that’s damn near gorgeous. The hospital’s long, sterile hallways make a great atmosphere for these well-orchestrated bursts of violence and Stenberg populates the setting with characters you actually care about.
Besides Jannicke, who’s as tough as “final girls” come, the hospital staff is all well developed as characters. There’s a young female doctor named Camilla (Marthe Snorresdotter Rovik) whose relationship is crumbling under employment pressures. A solemn, male doctor is suppressing his feelings for her as they both deal with the inevitable closing of the hospital. The cops have some interesting stuff going on as well, especially the grumpy chief who goes rogue to investigate the identity of the killer.
The big giveaway is that the killer has an enormous birthmark that covers nearly half of his face. Somehow the chief recalls a case from decades before about a missing child with a similar birthmark. This bit about the killer’s past is interesting, but it doesn’t really make you sympathize with him at all, which I think is the aim of the whole, sad backstory. I felt for Jason Voorhees because those hunky counselors let him drown, but the missing-child backstory of the Cold Prey killer didn’t really touch my heart. I didn’t mind the chief snooping into his history though because it adds some depth to the story and it never feel like wasted time.
One of the biggest problems with a lot of slasher flicks is that filmmakers don’t spend any time developing the characters before killing them off. Cold Prey II spends plenty of time on development though – bodies don’t start dropping until about an hour into the 90-minute film. Berdal is the obvious standout – the mix of fear and determination she exudes hits right on target – but Rovik also delivers as the nurse thrown into a bloody nightmare. Together, they make a great team and are a nice twist on the “final girl” trope.
Fans of the original film definitely won’t be disappointed. Since it’s a direct sequel, those who haven’t seen part one might want to start there first, but it’s not necessary because part two dishes out enough flashbacks to catch you up. It’s a nicely crafted film with believable, well-developed characters you can latch onto. Mats Stenberg knows when to hold back on the violence and when to let the limbs fly. Besides sorta missing the mark with sympathy towards the killer, there’s really nothing to complain about.
Cold Prey II is presented in 2.35:1 with a 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround mix. It’s in Norwegian with English subtitles. The picture is clear as DVD can be, but there are some minor grain issues during the dark scenes. The bleak blues of the snowy exteriors look especially great. The audio track is fine, with the eerie score nicely highlighted.
The only special features are a trailer and a series of extended scenes that don’t really add anything juicy to the experience. The film itself makes up for any lack of bonus content.