Cold Hell Movie Review
Written by Daniel Evans
Released by Allegro Film
Directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky
Written by Martin Ambrosch
2017, 92 minutes, Not Yet Rated
Frightfest UK Premiere on 26th August 2017
Violetta Schurawlow as Özge Dogruol
Tobias Moretti as Christian Steiner
Robert Palfrader as Samir
Sammy Sheik as Saeed el Hadary
Friedrich von Thun as Karl Steiner
“He saw me”
More mouse and cat than cat and mouse, this is a German production where the unfortunate heroine is offered very little help throughout and decides to get “medieval” on her stalker's arse, pretty much single-handedly.
Vienna, Özge (Violetta Schurawlow) is a cab driver, adept in the art of Thai boxing and is not one to hold back when confronted with a burly man or two. Her life isn’t exactly how she’d like it and to add extra weight to her misery she is witness to a terrible crime, where she is sure that the mysterious killer has spotted her. What follows is a mix of straight chase thriller and a weird Giallo (the colour yellow is regularly splashed about on the sets), the first murder being particularly reminiscent of Ken Russell’s shockingly grimy, and neon baked Crimes of Passion. It shortly becomes clear that the killer has the sights firmly fixed on Özge, but if the shadow-bound butcher had done some homework beforehand he may not have chosen a tough as nails, disgruntled to start with, kick-boxer to stalk and bump off. This is Schurawlow’s film and she fills every scene with a wilting, tired, but relentlessly annoyed attitude, as she gets turned away by nearly all who she tries to seek help from. She’s an empowered woman to say the least, only enlisting the help of a cynical cop, Detective Steiner (Tobias Moretti), after possibly realising her life is just as decaying as his own.
The film is shot beautifully, particularly showing the seedier side to a city like Vienna. Every interior is rich and thick with colour (and rather striking during the first kill, with its slabs of neon falling over the victim and her executioner), and everything else is suitably cold and downcast. Schurawlow’s performance shines, as does Moretti as the shabby cop, but the killer, once revealed, is totally unconvincing as a sexist, woman hating menace, and sometimes the ‘one woman against the world’ theme does get a little too forced. Unlike a traditional Giallo, which this film tips its hat to several times, the suspense is drained away, even in its darker moments, although the miserable characters hanging onto life’s vine by a solitary finger all add up to a thoroughly downbeat foundation onto which Özge can show off her kick-boxing skills. Cold Hell is a brisk, straight ahead thriller with a fine performance from the leading lady, an uninspired stalking psychopath and not too many holes into which the plot can fall. Hell may not totally freeze over before revisiting this film, but it may get pretty chilly.