Now, I happen to like horror films. That may make me a somewhat ineffective critic when it comes to evaluating these pictures because – right out of the gate – I’m watching something I’m a bit more prone to enjoy than the next person. That doesn’t mean I can’t detect inherent weaknesses in plots, characters, and situations. Rather, it means I may be slightly more inclined to give some of it a pass because, if the product delivers what it promised, then I got what I needed from it.
BLOOD RUNS COLD serves up a respectable throwback to the days when horror films were, largely, done in-camera with practical, tangible special effects. So in the nostalgia department, I’d have to give the film a solid B. But – because I’m also an honest critic – I’ll have to knock it down a few pegs mostly because so little thought went into the story’s logic (or lack thereof) that, at one point, I realized I was spending more time trying to figure it out than legitimately enjoying its thrills, chills, and spills.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and characters. If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then this ain’t for you! Instead, I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
Winona (played with mousey aplomb by Hanna Oldenburg) is a musician struggling through a stressful life. Deciding to get away from it all, she borrows a rural cabin belonging to a work friend and plans to disappear for a few days. However, fate throws her a curveball as she runs into an old boyfriend in a nearby tavern, and, together, they decide to carry on their reunion back at her temporary place. The only problem is that there’s a sadistic, cannibalistic killer now roaming the property, and he has other plans in store for the four of them.
BLOOD RUNS COLD is – in a word – “dumb.” Yes. I said it. It’s patently dumb. And mostly absurd. It’s exactly the kind of film that, when you think about it on any measure, it falls completely apart. It’s almost as if the film gods conspired against writer/director Sonny Laguna and delivered up one horribly ill-conceived idea after another, all in hopes of destroying his chance of ever achieved an ounce of greatness by attaching this logic-bomb to his coattails.
Still, there’s something inspired about all of it. Clearly – unless I miss my guess – Laguna and his co-writers (David Liljeblad and Tommy Wikland) share a fond appreciation for the slasher flicks of old. You know the type? Young ones lost in the wild … a lurking, faceless killer with an ax … trails of blood leading one hapless victim to the next? Yes, it’s THAT kind of film, and, on that level, the cast and crew manage to scare up a respectable dose of an almost nostalgic horror-fueled experience. Yes – and please believe me – it all comes crashing apart if you examine one moment of its benign silliness under a microscope, but, in the world of splatter and gore, such is life.
For example, what’s up with this rural cabin? The dirty little secret is that Winona ends up staying in the wrong place – why would her boss send her to his own B&B run by a maneater? – but it has more rooms, closets, and secret passages than an Irish castle! To make matters worse, apparently the two-story place was built over an underground cavern – complete with a frozen lake – that’s only accessible from the house’s second floor! (???) Chalk up the fact that the property has more secondary structures than a Georgia plantation, and I’m hoping you catch my drift.
And the slasher? What exactly is he? The film presents absolutely no possible origin story for him (or her?), and, while that’s a significant weakness, it ain’t its worst. He’s apparently doing what he’s doing in order to eat – we’re shown him gnawing on one or another of his victims – but why is he swathed over in gauze? Why are his eyes perfectly concealed? Why is it that no one can apparently hurt him, even when he takes an ax to the back? And why do his wounds ooze with smoke once he’s pierced?
And, for the love of Pete, where did that machine gun just conveniently show up in the final reel to give our young heroine a weapon that could finally take down her attacker?
See what I mean about none of it making much sense? I thought you would.
BLOOD RUNS COLD is produced by Stockholm Syndrome Film along with some participation from The Collective and Bloody Disgusting. DVD distribution is being handled through Vivendi Entertainment. As for the technical specifications, the picture looks and sounds mostly solid, though there’s some curious ‘miking’ issues in a few scenes that ruined the moment. Also – and I could be wrong on this as I’m not all that adept on some filming techniques – there are a few exterior sequences that I believe were heavily modified in post with some lighting and tinting effects; I say this because the scenes have the feel of being ‘manufactured.’ This film was apparently shot in Sweden, but, rest assured, all dialogue is delivered in English. Lastly, there’s a brief (10 minute) making-of featurette for fans who are truly interested.
RECOMMENDED. Call me a fool, but I can appreciate a good, old-school slasher film as much as the next fan of old-school slasher films. BLOOD RUNS COLD ain’t perfect – a case could be made logically that it’s pretty far from it – but there’s something charming about any picture that sets out to be just one thing, knows what that one thing is, and then – despite whatever odds or developments or obvious gaps in logic – stays true to that one true thing. Don’t think about it too hard, and you might have as much with this one as I did.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Vivendi Entertainment provided me with a DVD copy of BLOOD RUNS COLD by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.