Blood Runs Cold

| July 15, 2013

The slasher subgenre has such rigidly defined parameters and conventions that even tweaking something as basic as the setting for the action (like Cold Prey‘s endless snowfields) or the sexuality of the main characters (such as the all-male cast of Hellbent) can make a slasher film feel almost revolutionary. Still, when broken down to their component parts, the basics of the slasher don’t change much from film to film: there’s the slasher and the slashes, and a protracted final chase before the slasher is finally defeated, at least until the sequel. Various countries have put their stamp on the slasher, some genuinely interesting and some unremarkable. Bloody Disgusting and The Collective seem determined to bring every competent slasher film in the world to the U.S. home video market, and the latest example is Sweden’s Blood Runs Cold.

Winona (Hanna Oldenburg) is an artist whose manager James (Ralf Beck) has rented her a remote house near her home town. If her plan was to retire from the public eye, however, it doesn’t work: she soon runs into her old boyfriend Richard (Patrick Saxe) and his hard-partying friends Carl (Andreas Rylander) and Liz (Elin Hugoson). Winona invites Richard back to the house, and Carl and Liz tag along. Meanwhile, someone in the snowy forest is watching and waiting for a chance to strike. Again, this doesn’t take too long, and virtually before anyone knows what’s happened Winona finds herself in a struggle for survival against a seemingly unstoppable monster that looks human, but might be something else entirely.

Blood Runs Cold is a standard “kids in the woods” slasher movie, mostly distinguished by its snowy locale (although Cold Prey did get here first, and used the location much more effectively) and its very brief running time. The cast is whittled down at an alarming rate once the action starts, and the practical effects are mostly handled very well, with gouts of dark blood contrasting nicely with the cold grays and blues that dominate the film’s palette. The cast all speak English, despite the film’s setting and the fact that none of them are native English speakers. This leads to some odd pronunciation, but none of the actors’ accents are too thick to understand. It’s just a slightly distracting choice.

Debut feature director Sonny Laguna keeps the pace brisk, and the film clocks in under 80 minutes. This has the benefit of preventing the film from wearing out its welcome, but also makes the film feel especially workmanlike. The killer pops up, gets some blood on the screen before the opening credits, then waits a while to knock off most of the rest of the cast while dutifully allowing our heroine to escape and beat the hell out of him. There’s absolutely nothing a horror fan hasn’t seen before, especially slasher die-hards. Still, Winona is a likable enough lead character and the mysterious killer is interesting, and the dedication to practical gore effects is refreshing when so many low-budget horror films are turning to cheap CG splatter. If you’re not already a slasher fan, Blood Runs Cold isn’t going to change your mind, but if you’re already on board with slashers, there are certainly worse ways to spend your time.

Salient Media/The Collective released Blood Runs Cold on DVD 2 July 2013. Extras include a “Making of” featurette.

About the Author:

Jason Coffman is a film writer living in Chicago. He is author of "The Unrepentant Cinephile," and a regular contributor to Daily Grindhouse and Film Monthly as well as a member of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle. He is co-director of the Chicago Cinema Society and proud owner of 35mm prints of Andy Milligan's "Guru, the Mad Monk." Follow his long-form film writing on Medium:

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