Written by: Matt Molgaard
Directed by: Mikkel Braenne Sandemose
Cast: Julie Rusti, Pal Stokka, Arthur Berning, Ida Marie Bakkerud
Cold Prey 3 is designed to allow fans of the franchise to learn a little bit about Gunnar – the massive brute who chopped through a handful of 20-somethings in Cold Prey, only to wreak havoc on the staff at the local medical facility in Cold Prey 2. If you’re a fan of the Cold Prey franchise, this narrative should leave you better understanding the inner workings of a silent serial killer who feels no emotion, let alone mercy, for anyone alive.
The introductory shot takes us back in time and focuses on young Gunnar and his dreadful “parents.” The father figure of the home not only refrains from showing the boy love, he seems to relish in abusing the poor kid. As for mommy dearest, she’s content to sit back idly and do absolutely nothing to prevent the torturous treatment. It all comes to a head when Gunnar’s father practically erases him from existence. But what becomes of the boy? He’s “gone missing” somewhere near the family hotel. But what’s missing mean when your father is a sadistic prick who enjoys beating on the smaller and weaker of the world? Missing is failing to exterminate your son and seeing him return to bleed you out with a nice sharp blade. In Cold Prey 3, that’s “missing.”
We move forward 12 years, which means little Gunnar is no longer little. But he’s still around, and he’s adopted a few of his father’s despicable traits.
Product of our environment, right?
Now that we’ve slid right past Gunnar’s teenage years we get to the expected meat on the bone. A group of 20-somethings are out to spend an evening in the legendary hotel. But when they finally arrive at their destination, half of the group shows no interested in the rundown, rat infested hotel. So, they opt to spend the evening outdoors, where they’ll crash by the warmth of a small fire. But one night bleeds its way through to the following day, and the murder that we all know is so imminent gets out to a gruesome lead. What ensues is a game of cat and mouse, man against monstrous murderer. Too bad the latter knows the terrain like the back of his massive hand. We fall into another typical genre trope as the film’s naïve kids meet a systematic destruction, Gunnar slaughtering the youngsters as though the act of murder is precisely what he was born to do.
This is the element of Cold Prey 3 that slips far behind its two predecessors, both of which could make a case for History’s Greatest Norwegian Horror Pic. We’re not given a thorough character excavation, which leaves us with little concern for the guaranteed-to-be victims. The manner in which Gunnar assaults in this film remains true to what we know of his ways, but there are no real bold and new maneuvers (anyone remember the sequence in Cold Prey 2 in which we see a doctor have his head ripped damn near clean off the body, from the rear… all of this captured from a beautiful angle, the camera tilted down and aimed at the ascending doctor at the very moment in which his skull and spinal column get rearranged? That was inventive!), something that comes as a surprise, as franchise thirds tend to ratchet all of the carnage up and out of the stratosphere, usually in a bid to make up for a shoddy story.
If we’d cared about these characters, the ultraviolence would have left viewers in a far more anxious ad agitated state. When you really, really want to see someone survive a horror film, it pisses you off when the director and screenwriter squeeze your heart as they ax your favorite character. That’s when things worked out in the development of the characters. Again, that’s not the case here, and it damages the movie considerably. As does a lack of creativity and, the one apparent attempt at creativity, a somewhat strange subplot that I won’t spoil for you here, ultimately has nowhere to go but crashing to the figurative concrete.
Still, somehow, Cold Prey 3 remains intact.
Essentially everything we see from the midway point of the flick is predictable, stalk and slash kind of material. But through all the recycled work we slowly become just a bit more attached to a few characters we cared little for during the flick’s earlier moments, and we do see some merciless savagery by the big, bad, bringer of death. Gunnar is as mean here as he ever has been.
Cold Prey 3 looks absolutely beautiful. The timeline of the story is different from what we saw in the first two films. Those pictures were clearly winter tales, this third picture is basically a summer tale in a cold country. It may not seem as though it stands to make any major shifts in the feel of the overall narrative, but it does. Cold Prey and Cold Prey 2 feel like awesome Christmas flicks. Cold Prey 3 doesn’t. But that’s okay, the difference in season opens up a whole new slate of beautiful imagery to gawk at. Norway’s a stunning place, and director Mikkel Braenne Sandemose takes advantage of the beautiful scenery he’s got to work with. Even if you hate this movie in a big way, you can’t deny its aesthetic beauty.
We get a fair dose of solid performances from a fresh-faced batch of youngsters, we get a few entertaining kills, a subplot that, in my opinion doesn’t work very well, and only muddies up a beautifully ambiguous slasher franchise and some nice scenery to look at. Is it great? No. Does it come close to rivaling the magic of Cold Prey and Cold Prey 2? Not even close. Are you wasting your time by checking this one out? Absolutely not! It’s still a polished slasher that offers up more than we see from most American slashers. Look into it, if only to seal up the trilogy while judging this one for yourself.