I missed this one when it first came out… Norway was waaaay off this lil’ Catgirl’s movie radar… but luckily the new Region 1 DVD release by Anchor Bay has given me another chance.
The synopsis for it reads: “Jannicke, Morten Tobias, Eirik, Mikael and Ingunn are on a snowboarding vacation in Jotunheimen. They are forced to take shelter in an abandoned ski hotel when Morten Tobias breaks his leg and their car is too far away for them to reach within nightfall. They quickly discover that the hotel was closed back in the seventies due to the disappearance of the managers’ son. Unknown to them, someone is still living here in the hotel, and getting home, or even surviving the stay, isn’t going to be as easy as they believe.”
This one premiered in Norway back on October 13, 2006 and was instantly hailed as one of the best modern Norwegian horror movies. I haven’t seen too many other Norwegian films, so I’ll have to take their word on that… Hehehehe!!
I had heard only a little about it waaay back then, but missed the chance to pick myself up a copy of the Norwegian DVD release…. luckily Anchor Bay seems to have released it here uncut, so will it turn out to be something special or just another “Teens get slaughtered by a Psycho” version of that old plot line we’ve seen before? Hmmmmm? Lets check it out….
Yep…. basically this one follows that tried and true plot we all seen before. You know the one… take five people, usually young and attractive, and have them do something really, really dumb that ends up stranding them out in the middle of nowhere…. or at least so close to nowhere you can see it from whatever deserted place you find to use as shelter. Old summer camps…. desert ghost towns…. deserted insane asylums…. abandoned military bases…. cursed Private Girl’s Schools….. obscure scientific research outposts… derelict space stations…. or, as in this case, creepy ski resorts isolated waaaay up in the mountains. You know the places… the ones that are always home sweet home to some crazy ass psychotic killer. Yep…. we got all that here. So let the bloodletting begin!
“Fritt Vilt” doesn’t stray too far from this tried and true storyline either, if it hadn’t been in Norwegian, you’d have sworn it was a 90’s slasher flick from right here in the good ol’ US of A. Does that mean Neko thinks this one is doomed right from the start? Not at all….. As I’ve said before… sometimes the enjoyment of a film is in how comfortable a familiar it is, especially if it can add something new to the mix that manages to make it all it’s own.
This one starts with the prerequisite flashback…. in it, a young boy with a large birthmark over one eye is running for his life through a raging blizzard somewhere in Jotunheimen, being chased by some unknown person. Eventually, he stumbles and falls, allowing his unseen pursuer to catch up to him and despite his plaintive pleas, that person then buries him alive in the snow. This isn’t exactly what it seems though, but we’ll find out about that later…..
Then we jump forward to the present, where we meet our unlucky cast of attractive twenty-something protagonists/victims. All of the standard stereotypes are here: Eirik; the oldest of the group, our mature, sturdy, no nonsense, sensible leader; his buddy Morten Tobias, the prankster and comedian of the group, Jannicke, Eirik’s longtime girlfriend… and our best choice for tough, spunky, but tender heroine; Ingunn, Jannicke’s best friend and hopelessly flirtatious tease (you almost know right from the start she’s gonna be the first to die); and Mikal, Ingunn’s latest “Hunk of the Moment” and the youngest of the group of friends. When first we see them, they are driving down a snowy deserted road on their way to a day of snowboarding off in the mountains of Jotunheimen. It’s a big national park in Norway named after the mythical Norse “Land of the Giants”…. filled with huge mountains… snow… and little or no people in some of the harsher, more extreme parts. Ahhhh…. perfect. There’s some character development time here… just enough to show Jannicke and Eirik are uneasy about their relationship and where it’s headed… that Morten has a secret crush on Jannicke….. and that Ingunn is a hopeless bimbo with the serious “hots” for Mikal.
When they get there… they immediately climb the first unbelievably tall spiky peak they find and decide to do the whole extreme snowboarding thing down the other side. (Ummmm?… Ahh… Neko-chan… Won’t that leave them with a big honking mountain between themselves and the car? Yep…it certainly will. Not the most fatal of mistakes they’ll make, but certainly a big one.)
During the run, Morten falls and breaks his leg. One of those nasty, bone sticking out, all twisted around sort of breaks that tells our little group they wont be hauling his butt back up over “Mount Crumpit” anytime soon. They figure they are screwed… but then they spot some buildings, a ski resort just close enough to reach before nightfall.
Once they get down to the resort, the group soon discovers that it’s obviously been deserted for a long time. They break in by climbing snowdrifts to let them through a second story window. As soon as they get inside, they put Morten down on a couch in the parlor and try to do the ol’ “First Aid” thing. After wrenching the broken leg back into position and splinting it, Jannicke douses the wound with some vodka and superglues the gaping wound shut. Yipe!! Jannicke certainly shows her spunk here… performing some battlefield medicine that would make Rambo proud.
Eirik, Mikal and Ingunn then go off to explore the abandoned resort, while Jannicke stays behind to keep the injured Morten company. Those three manage to find an old generator in the basement and some fuel so that Eirik can get the power on. With the lights back on… in that flickering creepy way all lights gets turned on in places like this…they settle in for the night.
Naturally, lovebirds Mikal and Ingunn decide to run off all by themselves for some “quality time” while Eirik works on the generator. While exploring the hotel, they find a room once obviously on fire with the window broken, and Ingunn is shocked to find blood and small amounts of hair on a shard of glass. This never really gets explained, but Neko is guessing it’s probably leftover from one of the other unlucky visitors to this creepy place.It should warn them… but naturally it doesn’t.
Eirik, on his way back to the parlor, hears noises from somewhere deeper down in the cellar, but figures it’s just Mikal and Ingunn messing about. It isn’t… but he’ll find that out later. Unfortunately it’ll be too late by then. It always is….
Back upstairs, Jannicke finds the hotel’s registry book and sees that the last guest checked out waaay back in 1975, and under the names of those last registered guests, there’s a cryptic message reading: “We hope you find your son”. With it, there is a picture of a family. Of course, the boy in the photo is the same one who was being chased and buried in the snow during the opening flashback. This makes them uneasy… but not enough to keep Ingunn and Mikal from deciding that the lounge is too public a place for the two of them to spend the night. They head upstairs to find a room for the night. You know what’s gonna happen next.
Mikal and Ingunn get all cosy…. but then just when things are getting hot and sweaty, she puts the brakes on things. Mikal gets upset…. the way Ingunn’s been carrying on he’s confused by the mixed signals she’s sending, and leaves her alone figuring she’s just been teasing him all along. It saves his life… for now. Ingunn pouts and stays in the room, but soon the killer decides she’s just too tempting a victim to pass up. So in good psycho killer fashion, decked out in his scary ol’ parka and glacier goggles he puts an end to poor Ingunn after a short chase with his signature pointy weapon of choice… a big ol’ Ice Axe.
….. and yes, it’s going to take some time for the rest of the group to even realize she’s missing. Sigh…. That’s gonna cost them. From this point forward, we move much as might be expected… running about the lodge, helter skelter with Parka Guy in hot pursuit. Our boy Eirik decides to ski for help…. but naturally he only manages to find poor Ingunn’s body out in the snow before Parka Guy smacks him silly with his good ol’ Ice Axe. We see Jannicke rise to become our main Heroine here, as she tries to keep her remaining two friends alive till help comes…..
Eventually they get whittled down, one by one, (remember, it’s just that sort of movie…..and it’s traditional…) and we get to a final showdown between Jannicke and Parka Guy out on the lonely snowy wastes beside a deep, almost bottomless chasm where it seems Parka Guy dispossess of his many victims. Will she win? Will Eirik and Jannicka work out their problems? Will crazy Parka Guy meet his bloody and well deserved end? Well Neko’s not gonna tell you… so there. However… I will say, there’s now a sequel to this one out, and Jannicke is in it so you can pretty much guess the ending.
So…. what’s my overall opinion of this one then? Remembering my general unease at slasher films in general, I can say “Fritt Vilt” ended up being better than I thought. For one thing, unlike the last such film I reviewed here at the Litterbox, the French effort “Frontier(s)”, this one actually did find that ever so important out of the way place to set their film in that you can actually beleive might allow a crazy killer to survive undiscovered. The landscape is rugged, and beautiful and certainly frightening enough in it’s stark frigid emptiness that we instantly accept the existance of Parka Guy without a doubt. Combine that with some excellent cinematography contrasting the bright white of the arctic exteriors with the dingy sepia toned darkness of the resort’s interiors and you truly can beleive in the set up of the story. That’s a big plus.
The acting is solid too. Jannicke is a good heroine, and you want her to win…. you really do. Even her friends are portrayed in a fashion that makes them sympathetic figures rather than the dispossable characters that usually inhabit such genre efforts.
If you were looking for a total bloodbath though, you might be disappointed though. The gore here is more believable than the over the top bloodshed now so common to other films. Neko actually liked that for a change, letting me focus on the film rather than the uneasy squirming I usually suffer through on these.
So…. In conclusion, Neko gives “Fritt Vilt” a solid 3 “Meows” out of 5 for doing a good job with the material, but I only wish they had come up with a new twist… something different to push it in a new direction. That would have given it another “Meow” easily… Oh, well….it’s certainly good enough for me to give the sequel a look see when it becomes available, and that’s high praise from this lil’ Catgirl.
Anchor Bay did an excellent job with their region 1 NTSC disc. The film comes uncut, as far as I can tell, letterboxed, and with both the original Norwegian Audio as well as a decent English dubbed track and separate English subtitles included if you choose. There’s even a “Making Of” featurette in Norwegian with those same excellent English subtitles throughout. Way to go Anchor Bay!
As always, loyal readers, Neko leaves you with the Trailer for this one so you can see for yourself….
And if this one is just the sort of creepy foreign film you like, then naturally you’ll want to take a look at the Trailer for the sequel “Fritt Vilt 2”, just out this year in theaters in Norway…..