Cold Prey II (2008)
Director: Mats Stenberg
Writers: Thomas Moldestad, Roar Uthaug, and Martin Sundland
Starring: Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Marthe Snorresdotter Rovik, and Kim Wifladt

The Plot: Jannicke (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal) is the only survivor after the events of the first Cold Prey, and in this sequel we first find her wandering aimlessly around a snowy Norweigan rural area. The police pick her up and bring her back to the local hospital where she meets local nurse Camilla who tries to discover just what poor Jannicke has been through. The police, meanwhile, head back to the hotel where Jannicke was attacked and they discover multiple bodies. Among them, the mountain man from the first movie. They bring the bodies back to the morgue, but it seems that the mountain man may not be completely out of the game yet. Much to the dismay of Jannicke, the mountain man is brought back to life and his reign of carnage continues yet again.

The Review
Horror cinema, above all other genres, moves in very cyclical patters. Every several years the world is introduced to a new sub-genre or a new territory that apparently “captures” horror within its time or its culture. During the eighties, America had the slasher film. The nineties brought us the ironic and self-referential view of the genre. And the two thousands, despite the fans who feel that the genre has been dying (a bold statement that is claimed every year), have brought the world numerous hotspots and reinventions of this popular genre. The late nineties and early two thousands brought back the ghost/haunting genre in a big way, and this was in no small part thanks to Japanese cinema of the time. Then, when that genre seemed to be dead, the world was introduced to the supposed “torture porn” genre. Around this same time, diehard cult-horror fans found solace not in the Hollywood gore films of Eli Roth, but in the genre-bending gorefests coming out of Europe. My opinion of these films has been that they are very hit or miss, but it’s hard not to acknowledge how intriguing the change of scenery/culture within these films can be. Even though I have my issues with some of the better known French horror titles that I have seen, I am still infatuated with this particular movement and I appreciate the polish and style used in these films. Cold Prey II is a title that sits very well on any shelf with titles such as Haute Tension, Frontieres, or even Martyrs. While its individual merits may not be as highly regarded as the previously mentioned films, it certainly brings to the table everything taht horror fans look forward to in these films.

The movie operates in the traditional way that most slashers do. Isolated residence, a few love interests, a psychotic killer, and a multitude of violence waiting to be unleashed for the viewing pleasure of a bloodthirsty audience. While I would like to say that our movie today uses this precipice as a jumping-off point where it intends to break free of the mold and head off into some daring directions that deftly maneuver the genre into new and unexplored territories… that is not the case. For the most part, this is as conventional as the genre tends to get. Taking its setting from Halloween 2 and featuring a killer who is just as mysterious as Michael Myers was, Cold Prey II won’t be winning many awards due to its stark originality. Yet, the one thing that the movie has going for it is the talent of the filmmakers involved. Although the material isn’t going to change the lives of most viewers, that doesn’t prevent the filmmakers from doing their best to make as polished and as impressive a slasher movie as they could. Looking as good as this genre will allow, Cold Prey II has some fairly brilliant photography within it. Featuring a muted color palette and an assortment of camera styles, there is a certain level of prestige that follows the movie. Making excellent use of both handheld and static camera setups, the film has a gritty edge while still holding a very traditional cinematic vision. The movie may not be loud in its style, but it is fantastic to look at.

If there are weaknesses to be found in Cold Prey II, it of course comes from these roots that it has in tradition. While the movie does its best to be shocking and taut, there’s hardly ever a moment in the film where you won’t be aware that you are watching a new-era slasher movie. Viewers may still thank their lucky stars that at least this title doesn’t feature an assortment of annoying teenagers being killed in various states of undress (well, the undressed part wouldn’t be so bad), there are plenty of other genre elements at play in the movie. We have the knowledgeable and experienced veteran who survived the first film (see the Scream franchise or the aforementioned Halloween sequel), we have the sweet young girl who joins up with the grizzled vet (serving as the virginal “final girl” in this sequel), there is of course the mysterious killer who defies all physical possibilities, and there’s also the supernatural slant when we discover our main villain is apparently incapable of dying. The “Mountain Man” is ultimately a Norwegian Jason Voorhees. Do all of these things stack up to make a bad movie? Not at all, but viewers should know precisely what they are getting into with this one. You won’t be blown away and it’s doubtful that it will be at the top of your favorite film list, but when Cold Prey II gets something right: it’s usually done absurdly well.

While I’ve said that the movie never allows the viewer to forget that it’s a part of a broad formula, that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to get into. If it has a strongsuit, it comes from the conviction felt within its story and the way that the plot stays committed to our characters. Cold Prey II isn’t a genre film that simply jumps to the gore and bodycount. Instead, the movie focuses a great deal on our two female leads and their individual subplots. The first half of the movie builds these characters and it isn’t implausible for the audience to become invested in their drama. By the end of the movie, it’s hard to imagine any viewer truly wanting to see anything bad happen to these characters. The protagonists are given ample time to engage with the audience, and the first half of the film really helps solidify this connection. By putting the carnage off for nearly an hour, the film daringly committs to a plot – and I liked that about the movie. While it may ultimately be a simplistic genre film, the talent behind the script at least tried to focus on building a foundation for the film.

The Conclusion
Cold Prey II has issues, there’s no denying that. However, amongst the European slashers that I have seen from the modern era, this is actually one of the better ones. I write this review as someone who has not seen the original film, so there’s a good chance that this is a step down in quality. If that turns out to be the case, then the original Cold Prey could very well be something to search out immediately. As far as this sequel goes, it earns a respectable three out of five.