Wednesday, May 8, 2013

DVD Review: COLD PREY II (2008)

COLD PREY II (2008) 

Label: Shout Factory
Region Code: 1 NTSC
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 94 Minutes
Video: 16:9 Widescreen (2.35:1)
Audio: Danish Dolby Digital 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles 
Director: Mats Stenberg
Cast:  Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Johanna Morck, Kim Wifladt, Marthe Snorresdotter Rovik, Fridtjov Sahein

If you love snowbound horror and slashers then you best prepare yourself for an extended horror-gasm because the sequel to the Danish slasher entry COLD PREY (2006) is about to make you pop your top! Not sure what took so long for this sequel to make it's way to a proper region 1 DVD release but trust me it's worth the wait, I loved the original film and this one maintains the same level of quality.  It's atmospheric, tense, and features not just a main character you actually feel something for but a cast of side characters, too! On a purely visual level we get a a gorgeous snow-set mountaintop setting plus a very cool pick-ax armed slasher hacking away at 20-somethings, what's not to love?

This sequel much like Halloween 2 (1981) takes up immediately following the events of the first film, our heroine Jannicke (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal), is picked-up by the police who find her dazed and confused alongside the road, the officer nearly runs her down. In shock and uncommunicative she is transported to a hospital where she tells the startling tale of what happened to her and her friends on the mountaintop, which I won't spoil for you. The authorities send a detail up to the mountain and specifically to the crevice in the ice where the corpses were thrown, and indeed her story checks out, there's a lot of bodies. 

The bodies are brought back to the hospital by the authorities for identification and autopsy purposes. When Jannicke is brought to the morgue to identify her friends bodies she sees that the killer's body is among them and goes into a justified shit fit and pounds the bejeezus outta the corpse in the morgue, and wouldn't you just know it the hulking freak springs back to life (of course!) to continue his slasher spree and maybe even knock off Jannicke who only just barely escaped him in the first installment.

There's a lot of similarities to Halloween 2, this is a pretty obvious homage to that film without question. It's a direct sequel, we have the hospital setting, and the drugged-out survivor girl. We don't quite get a Loomis character but collectively he's represented. Comparing it to H2 I wouldn't say it's a clone, think of it in terms of the DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978) vs. DAWN OF THE DEAD (2008), similar but totally different. This frosty slasher-nirvana, and it has a great retro-feel, too. Much like the first installment there's plenty of slow lingering shots and eerie atmosphere bolstered by a creepy score and some nice sound design, this is a great looking slasher.

Something we don't get enough of these days that this film has in excess are some decent characters that you can get a feel for, the deaths actually mean something because the characters get at least some minor development, they're quite likable. The officers, the hospital staff and a small child whom befriends our heroine all enter into the picture and when the blood starts flowing you feel it, you dread it even, there's a real sense of menace and it's appreciated.

Ingrid Bolsø Berdal as our returning heroine is pretty fantastic, she starts of struggling with physical weakness and the effects of being strung out on tranquilizers but when the shit hits the fan she's quite the ass-kicker, and with this film we get not just one final girl, but two!

In regard to our baddie we do get some expanded back story from a cop who investigated a missing person report years ago, some newspaper clippings and whatnot. It's not a perfect info dump but it's not offensively expository either. Apparently the third entry is prequel, and given what we know and what we discover with this film, and the one before it, I am pretty excited to check it out.

At the end of the day this a slasher film so after all the character development and how gorgeous the movie is you might still wanna know how are the kills are, right? No worries grue-seekers, they're pretty sweet. While there's nothing new under the sun it's superbly executed without resorting to gratuitous excess, there's some restraint. We have a slashed throat, a brutal shower room brain bashing (minus a few point for a lack of nudity), a vertebrae shattering neck snap, and a great finale that takes us back to the remote mountaintop hotel where it all started. I would say that this one, while starting off somewhat slow for the first forty minutes, nicely ramps up he action over the first film and is its equal.  

DVD: Shout Factory present Cold Prey 2 in 16x9 widescreen (2.35:1) and it's a very nice standard definition transfer. The whites are crisp without being overblown and the blacks are adequate  there's some crushing evident in a few scenes. It's not an overly sharp image either, would love to see this get a 1080p Blu-ray with amped-up fine detail, it would be a stunner. The Danish 5.1 audio is very nice offering some good use of the surrounds. Dialogue, score and effects are well balanced and clear. Overall a very nice presentation that would greatly benefit from a new hi-def transfer.

The disc is pretty bare bones by Shout Factory standards coming in with only a trailer for the film and a few deleted scenes, which seemed to be just slightly different takes from scenes in the film, if that.

Special Features:
- Trailer (2:02)
- Deleted Scene (7:31)

Verdict: Cold Prey and Cold Prey 2 are fun, essential retro-styled slashers, these films are recommended to any slasher fan looking for something new to chew on. Now I am left to wonder how long do we have to wait for the second sequel which was released in 2010 in Norway to make it's way to North America? A perfect scenario would have Shout Factory acquiring the rights to all three films and releasing a triple feature Blu-ray of this Norwegian slasher franchise, can we make that happen? 3.5 Outta 5