Based on the big numbers David Gordon Green’s Halloween pulled in over its opening weekend, it seems that audiences have deemed the film a worthy conclusion — or at least a worthy continuation — of John Carpenter and Debra Hill’s beloved horror franchise. In wiping away the continuity of Halloween II and beyond, Green’s film has carved a new road for itself independent of either the myriad Halloween sequels or even Rob Zombie’s contentious remakes. But while Halloween II might not be everyone’s idea of a satisfying horror sequel, it did set the stage for another franchise to execute on some of the promises it made to its audience. Cold Prey 2: Resurrection, the impressive sequel to Roar Uthaugu’s original 2006 film, is, to quote a Twitter friend, “better at being Halloween II than Halloween II” itself.
Much like Halloween and Halloween II, the Cold Prey movies take the events of a 48-hour period and spread them across two feature films. In Cold Prey, we are introduced to Jannicke (Westworld’s Ingrid Bolsø Berdal) and her friends as they enjoy a little off-trail snowboarding in the Norwegian mountainside. When one of Jannicke’s party is injured in a freak accident, the group takes refuge in an abandoned winter lodge, only to discover that it serves as home to a violent killer with bloody ties to the region. In Cold Prey 2 — coming in at number 10 on our recent list of the best Scandinavian horror films — Jannicke is seemingly rescued after an evening bloodbath at the ski resort, only to find herself once-more squaring off against the deranged killer when the medical staff manages to bring him back to life. Much like the Halloween movies, Cold Prey 2 picks up mere moments after the conclusion of the first film, giving them a degree of continuity typically unseen in mainstream horror films.
While Cold Prey 2 provided nowhere near the box office success of the Halloween sequel, the parallels between these two franchises were not exactly lost on critics. In his 2013 review of the home video release, Birth.Movies.Death writer Brian Collins devoted a large chunk of his write-up to the parallels between Cold Prey 2 and the Rick Rosenthal-directed Halloween sequel; not only did he cover their overt similarities (“direct continuation, hospital setting, a heroine who’s kind of out of it for a good chunk” of the movie) he also praised the Norwegian film for being a visual step above its American counterpart. Other critics, including our own Rob Hunter, also honed in on the impressive visuals despite the change in directors. Not only were Halloween II director Rosenthal and Cold Prey 2 director Mats Stenberg making their feature directorial debut with each sequel, they were also taking the reigns from an up-and-coming filmmaker. Only Stenberg proves himself a capable successor.
Collins also touches on another important element in his review: Cold Prey 2 isn’t afraid to take its time to get to the murders. Believe it or not, the film takes more than 37 minutes for the first onscreen kill to occur. This represents an eternity for some horror fans who are just looking for a bit of splatter to round out their holiday, but it allows Cold Prey 2 to move at its own deliberate pace. By the time the killer first picks up a scalpel, we’ve already formed an emotional connection to several of the new characters introduced in the movie. More importantly, we’ve also spent valuable onscreen time with Jannicke as she struggles to process her own trauma. If Jannicke was a likable character in the first film, here she makes her case to join the pantheon of horror final girls, overcoming her near-constant terror to bring the remaining hospital residents to safety.
In fact, one could argue that Cold Prey 2 also outperforms Green’s Halloween when it comes to matters of character development. While much has been made of the new film’s unique approach to intergenerational trauma, the execution of that narrative leaves a lot to be desired; much of the relationship between Laurie Strode and her daughter is supported entirely through clunky bits of onscreen dialogue. Green and co-writer Danny McBride have elected to show their characters talking about their fractured relationships instead of devoting the screen time necessary to create continuity between films. Critic April Wolfe put it best when she described Laurie Strode’s storyline as being severely undercut by the volume of quips that surround it. “That vital storyline is not just undercut,” Wolfe writes, “this Halloween makes a mockery of it.” Conversely, Cold Prey 2 puts newcomer Camilla front-and-center for much of the film; when Jannicke is spurred back into action, the film converges their two separate-but-equal narratives, allowing their two disparate storylines to become one.
As individual horror movies, the first two Cold Prey movies are each a great example of how stellar execution can elevate a simple premise. As connective tissue in a franchise, however, Cold Prey 2 is perhaps one of the most impressive horror sequels of all time, building on the promise of the first film and proving a decade ago that slashers were nowhere near as extinct as some would have you believe. For those who wish they could enjoy their own modern Halloween movies, be sure to give Cold Prey (currently available to stream on Shudder) and its sequel a chance this holiday weekend.