In November 2007 I offered the opinion that Norwegian slasher import Cold Prey (Fritt Vilt) was quite a bit of fun. Absolutely nothing new in the plot department, but that's never stopped a scrappy foreign horror flick from doling out some treats worth tasting. Even after repeat viewings -- Cold Prey was released by Anchor Bay last January -- the thing holds up as a throwback / homage to only the most basically entertaining of slasher films. (A second viewing also reminded me of how well Cold Prey is shot, cut, and full of attitude -- which is why it's fun to re-watch movies you like. Especially movies under 90 minutes long.) So of course it was with no small sense of excitement that I sat down to devour Cold Prey 2 which comes from the same production company (Fantefilm) ... but a new director. Would the sequel squander all the good will that the first flick delivered so unexpectedly? Are the Nordic guys now content to churn out non-stop sequel-crap like the American distributors love to do?
I sure hoped not. All I knew that that leading lady Ingrid Borso Bordal was returning, that the sequel picked up directly after the first one, and that much of the mayhem would take place in a deserted hospital.
So if Cold Prey was a love letter to John Carpenter's Halloween, then Cold Prey 2 seems to be an unapologetic fan-time geek-out for Rick Rosenthal's Halloween 2. How else to explain the similarities than to accept that this Norwegian slasher series is fully intent on stomping through the old-school horror franchises? But hey, if each new chapter is as good as the first pair, then I say well done to "Fantefilm" and I wish them well on Part 3. (Friendly advice to the producers: Avoid what was done with Halloween 3: Season of the Witch. But stay right where you're at with the Cold Prey vibe, style, and presentation. I'm diggin' it!)
So yes: Poor Jannicke has just survived a hellacious night in an abandoned hotel on the top of a mountain in the middle of Nowheresville, Norway. Her four friends are dead and their killer is (umm) not quite dead, which causes no end of suffering to the doctors, nurses, patients and security guards who happen to get within 50 feet of poor Jannicke as she panics from her hospital room. This being an old-school slasher throwback, there are of course more kills, a splattery dash of extra gore, and a few new threads that halfway explain who the damn killer is anyway. But really, Cold Prey 2 is, like its predecessor, little more than a very stylish clothesline on which to hang a dozen kills, quips, in-jokes, and camera angles that shriek with admiration for John Carpenter, Wes Craven, and all the other masters of the sub-genre.
The difference between homage and rip-off is, I suppose, a combination of effort and intent. Hardcore horror fans can spot a cynical cash-in of a retread ten miles away, but when it comes to well-crafted foreign fare that comes from a sincere, enthusiastic, and (most important) talented group of people, I could watch this stuff all weekend. No snark, no irony, just a whip-nasty, well-shot, tightly-cut slasher movie with a bad attitude, a very slick style, and only the slightest of smirks on its face.