March 14, 2018 Cold Hell (Movie Review)
Written by Martin Ambrosch (Tatort 1970, Traces of Evil 2010) and produced by Academy Awarding-winning Director Stefan Ruzowitzky (The Inheritors 1998, The Counterfeiters 2007), Cold Hell hits Shudder exclusively on Thursday, March 15, 2018.
Originally titled Die Hölle, set in Austria’s capital city Vienna, it is the story of a young Turkish-born taxi driver Özge Dogruol (Violetta Schurawlow: Cannibal Diner 2012, Head Full of Honey 2014) who witnesses a murder in the neighbor’s apartment. Also being seen by the murderer, her life turns upside down as she tries to protect herself; the police will not help her but luckily one detective gives her shelter from this fast-paced turn of events.
Cold Hell attempts to bring back some of the magic and charm of old school Thrillers from the ’90s and, in some ways, it does indeed. However, be warned: this is not a high-suspense flick and, in many ways, this film does not even have to be, as there is no invocation of the mysterious, whodunnit nature here. Despite there being some bits of nudity and verbal profanity throughout, this is a movie with an internal message that, ultimately, serves to be empowering to women. Furthermore, the injection of action – and there is lots of it – serves as a kind of palette-cleanser for the bits of nudity some might find distasteful.
Character wise, Cold Hell becomes quite messy when it comes to development, though an otherwise great use of plot somewhat distracts the viewer from these shortcomings. There is a bit of a problem with introducing some characters. For example, the father figure of the film feels somewhat out of place in a story that mostly concentrates on the female protagonist. However, the use of the strong female character Özge Dogruol helps in detracting from the obvious lack of detail and development of secondary characters. She possesses the hard look a character in her element should possess – a factor which carries most of the scenes even where there is little dialogue.
In other ways, the secondary characters such as the murderer and Police Officer Christian Steiner (Tobias Moretti: Rex: A Cop’s Best Friend 1994, Dark Valley 2014) works surprisingly well in some areas of Cold Hell, serving beautifully to further the plot. Since the film focuses more so on the message of empowerment and emancipation of women than its male characters, character development becomes more a slight oversight than a debilitating problem.
Fortunately, while the plot of Cold Hell is weak in some areas, it does not hurt the story. The film does tend to have an off-the-wall sense of humor and romance that some will appreciate. While some might not, it effectively serves as a break from the saturated action experiences of the film, making Özge seem human and not just some bionic wonder woman. There is also great atmosphere to Cold Hell, along with a sense of direction story-wise, all matched with a unique touch of rhythm and pace. Additionally, there is great mix of serious and gory scenes before interlude in areas of humor and romance. All of this helps the story’s strength before the audience gets to a rather blood-drenched finale.
When it is all said and done, there is not much not to like about Cold Hell if you can get past the forced close-up camera angles, some superfluous characters that do not quite stand out within the story, and a somewhat phoned-in romance angle, that thankfully, is used tastefully. Otherwise, this is a Shudder film experience not to be missed by lovers of intense Thrillers. For this reason, CrypticRock gives Cold Hell a 4 out of 5 stars.