Studio: The Collective
Director: Sonny Laguna
Writer: Stockholm Syndrome Film
Producer: Tommy Wiklund, David Liljeblad
Stars: Hanna Oldenburg, Patrick Saxe, Andreas Rylander, Elin Hugoson, Ralf Beck
An axe-wielding maniac stalks four friends caught in a remote winter cabin.
Two couples spending the night in a snow covered remote cottage wake to find themselves stalked by an axe-wielding masked killer. That one sentence is everything there is to the story of “Blood Runs Cold” and the film makes no apologies for that fact. “Blood Runs Cold” strips away plot, depth, and originality to use the minimum frame possible for delivering scenes of an axe ripping through human flesh. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Everything in the preceding paragraph is all the foreknowledge required to determine what personal value might await in the film. Looking for a mindless 80 minutes of formulaic hack and slash? There is nothing wrong with that preference, if visceral thrills are all that is desired. And “Blood Runs Cold” has that covered. But seen too many 1980’s slasher retreads that lack creativity or entertainment value beyond a few gory kills? Move along. There is definitely nothing to see here.
Every once in a while, depending on mood, a straightforward slasher can be a fun experience as long as proper expectations are tailored beforehand. But if a minimalist horror film is only going to do as little as possible to constitute a feature release, then it really should be close to perfect in those few things that it does. And that is a bill that “Blood Runs Cold” does not fit.
The characters are so thin as to almost be made out of mist. Of the traits that the scriptwriters managed to inject, brainpower was not among them. The Final Girl of “Blood Runs Cold” makes some of the daftest choices ever seen by such a character in a horror film. When she wakes up in the morning to find that her other three houseguests are inexplicably missing, and there is a gory blood puddle staining the living room floor, what does she do? She fills a bucket with soapy water, grabs a brush, and starts scrubbing the floor. All evidence points to something mysteriously gruesome going on and her worry is over losing the security deposit.
Later, Final Girl tries barring the door between her and the killer by fastening a tiny hook latch into an even tinier eyelet. This is the type of lock usually seen on the screen door of a country porch. It would not stand up to a gentle breeze let alone a homicidal maniac, yet here she is banking on its sturdiness for her survival.
“Blood Runs Cold” also confirms that an axe is a really poor choice of murder weapon for a serial slasher, especially if scrappy female or physically fit athletic types are on the victim list. This goes for the entire genre, but it most certainly applies to this movie. If there were a way to tangibly measure axe swings that connect with flesh versus axe swings that lodge into walls, floors, doors, or furniture, the scale would tip right over in favor of the latter. Adding to the hilarity is when that axe wielder violently tears up his own home while maddeningly lobbing blade arcs at his target, which is something that also happens here.
On the plus side, the killer of “Blood Runs Cold” does have a unique look. A burly parka speckled with frozen snow, frosted goggles, and bloody fabric across the face aptly reflects his menace. Yet while he is suited for winter, the script surprisingly is not. The remote cottage setting is covered in snow, but the winter aspect of the story does not play a huge role. While there is the occasional depiction of cold breath, snowdrifts do not strand anyone and no one is ever at risk for frostbite or hypothermia. It is a wasted opportunity to take full advantage of the wintry look and feel, but “Blood Runs Cold” is full of such spots where the simple and straightforward road was taken instead.
Some might be forgiving of the film because of its low budget and its specific intention to not be anything more than a simple bloodbath. But aiming the bar low and hitting it is not what makes a good movie. Or even an entertaining one. “Blood Runs Cold” is just a frame to showcase a few bloody kills while one maniac chases around interchangeable victims. That is all this movie is. And for better or for worse, that is all that “Blood Runs Cold” wants to be.
Review Score: 30