Mr MovieHooker reluctantly passed Cold Hell to me to watch last week. His internet is still not firing on all cylinders and quite frankly, it’s making me happy. If not for that I wouldn’t have been able to watch this upcoming Shudder film until its release with everyone else. This thriller/action film is from Austria by Academy Award-winning director Stefan Ruzowitzky and stars the stunning Violetta Schurawlow as Özge.
What’s It About?
Set in Vienna, a woman sees the aftermath of a terrible crime. When she informs local authorities that the killer has seen her, they do nothing to offer protection. Fearing for her safety, she returns to work as a taxi-driver and discovers she is being hunted.
How Was It?
During the Fantasia Film Festival 201,the Best Actress Award went to Violetta Schrawlow for her portrayal as Özge in this female led film.
Austria doesn’t make a lot of action movies but the creators of this film want to change that. Written by Martin Ambrosch, Cold Hell starts very quietly. I love Muay Thai (spectator not practicing) and seeing Özge introduced as a taxi-driver with skills gave the film a cool edge immediately. Detective Samir (Robert Palfrader) comes across as the average cop with a stick up his butt about women and no time to understand them.
The scenes are mostly set in dingy apartment buildings and out in suburban streets. Each shot gives the subtext of despair and anger without anyone actually being very angry. Despite knocking down a few men from time to time, Özge meanders through the story without saying an awful lot. She comes across as a woman hell-bent on being alone and by being surly to anyone who speaks with her.
About half way through I became somewhat despondent of the films narrative. What sort of movie did this set out as? It seemed to cover the spectrum of genres and I became so displeased I turned it off. I had decided Cold Hell was turning into a weird parable of John McClane in Die Hard only with no guns and a serial killer instead of terrorists. Thinking about the movie later, I wanted to know more about the protagonist. I realized I hadn’t found out exactly what her deal was yet. I didn’t know who the serial killer was and wanted to see if there would be any more brilliant fight scenes in cars full of traffic?
The first half isn’t bad in any respect, that’s not why I switched it off. I thought I had it figured out. I just wasn’t in the mood for a feminist statement and I assumed it was going to do what all movies of this type do. In the end it did but it also did not. The second half of this movie is a delight if one can use a word like that in a review of an action film. Not only does it redeem itself, it manages to throw in some light comedy through Karl Steiner (Friedrich von Thun). I absolutely adored Karl’s character and even though it threw in another genre, it worked.
My hatred of Detective Samir got flipped on its head somehow and the daytime trash-television lover in me ate up the rest of the tale. Cold Hell taught me to never judge a movie by its female heroine cover and always watch until the end.
I give Cold Hell 4 prostitute skinning serial killers out of 5.
For the full movie go to www.shudder.com 15th March 2017
Quote From Director Stefan Ruzowitzky on making Cold Hell
I read an interview with the director on an Austrian website Vienna Online by Allegro Film, Petro Domenigg. Allegro Film are trying to get Austrian movies known for their action flicks. What I found though, was that a quote from Stefan Ruzowitzky summed up the film perfectly.
The trick is to lull the audience into safety: you know that, you know that and you know that – and then suddenly something else comes along. That’s the only way to frighten oneself. Of course, some critics sometimes feel misunderstood as a genre filmmaker when they say, “I’ve seen that many times before.” Yes, but that’s part of the game! If it’s just things that you’ve often seen, then it really becomes a problem. You have this set of rules and the audience wants this set of rules intelligently broken and expanded – but not reinvented with stump and stems.