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Blood Runs Cold (2010)
Director: Sonny Laguna

review by Paul Higson

Cold and crisp and even would be an apt description for Sonny Laguna's wintry horror film Blood Runs Cold, but then so would mediocre and completely free of imagination. The Swedish movie, reputedly made on a budget of 5,000, was cast in December 2009 and shot in January 2010, it could afford very little and they were economic with story and character, too. Who exactly they are be a mystery as the end titles detail only four crew (which could very well be it) with the key cast six, and only a number of extras for a bar scene completing the credits. The plot is so skimpy that it barely crosses the line from the abstract and in its simplicity registers 'transcendental', the movie equivalent of a relaxation tape. In order to do this it has to forego modern movie trends like the erratic camera and hop-about editing. So, in the movie's favour, it goes old school with a sedate camera softly receiving the locations, the occupants and the bloody activities of the film's evil cannibal as he goes underground, over-ground, slaughtering free.

It is my second below par film this month with a successful young singer for a protagonist (the other is Robin Hardy's The Wicker Tree) but our heroine, Winona (Hanna Oldenburg) is returning from a year of initial stardom to her old home town (though a Swedish production and shoot, the setting is an American backwater), to relax a little and compose new material. Her agent has lined up an out of the way property for her but she arrives at the wrong building which is drably furnished and far from the dream getaway promised. She escapes her miserable quarters for the evening, visiting a bar, though hopefully it is not a real bar because it looks more like charity furniture store. Three friends are drinking, one of whom is Winona's old boyfriend Carl (Andreas Rylander) who is challenged to try and reconnect with her. As he is due to leave the country and he never expected her to return to their hick town following the big time, the encounter has fate written all over it.

Not fond of the idea of returning to the grim property alone she invites the small party back and once there, further suggests to them that they stay the night. Both couples have sex and brassy James (Ralf Beck) is the first up investigating music playing in a downstairs room. His death is unseen and bucking the expected time schedule between victims in these movies his girlfriend Liz (Elin Hugoson) is dead within another three minutes. Carl doesn't last much longer, having discovered the anthropophagous, face hidden by goggles, scarf and the hood of his coat, tearing at the severed arm of the dead girl. Winona awakens to find herself halfway through the film and already the last girl.

She mistakes blood on the floorboards for spilt wine and after cleaning them settles into an evening improving on her song lyrics. The certain need improving but she doesn't make a good job of it. In one genuinely disturbing shot, she casually looks out of the window when she sees the killer for the first time. Strident, he acknowledges her directly, pointing to her as he passes giving the clear message: "You're next!" The remainder of the film is crawling through passages, the discovery of half-eaten corpses, her agent finding the building and also copping it, and the girl receiving several nasty injuries herself before a final battle to a death. She fights on despite a pickaxe through the foot and having two fingers chomped off, but you will be pleased to hear that he leaves her the fingers and thumb needed to hold that plectrum. The digit injury is reminiscent of the mutilation suffered by the girl protagonist of Jaume Collet-Serra's House Of Wax, a vicious step up from the cuts that will leave only battle scars that the last girl in stalker movies used to at worst suffer.

The film appears to have less purpose as a serious commercial entity than it does as a show-reel for the cinematographic abilities of the maker, who we assume was the director and cameraman. The camera is stable for once, and the image lucid, and one is tempted to reach out and touch that fresh snow rested an inch thick on a tree limb. Visible is every smudge on a wall, every carpet fret and every pore. The post-production darkening of the day for night scenes lends them a magical hue in blue that lends the early part of the film comparison to a tinted silent. The gore is splashy and effective but the film can never overcome the arch abandonment of storytelling and the dull characters provide no-one to root for.

Blood Runs Cold

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