REVIEW: Cold Hell
– By Dave Cliffe
Late at night, down and out Turkish taxi driver Ozge (Violetta Schurawlow) witnesses a brutal murder of a prostitute in her apartment building. Horrified from seeing the attacker carry out the brutal attack, things go from awful to terrifying as the attacker turns his attention to Ozge.
Set in Germany, this violent thriller at first comes across as your typical late-night trashy euro thriller, which in some aspects it is, however, Cold Hell (‘Die holle’- in German) is a more than satisfying entry in the stalker genre.
Directed by Austrian Stefan Ruzowitzky, Cold Hell has some pedigree behind the production, as Ruzowitzky directed the excellent world war two thriller, Counterfeiters (2007). There is no denying that Cold Hell is low-budget and derivative of thriller tropes, however, the visceral and fast-paced screenplay encapsulates and entertains throughout.
Supporting this sense of engagement into the narrative is Ozge, as she is not your usual protagonist; she is hard, complex and lonely; her backstory gleans a real sense of hardship and mistreatment. But it is the expeditious nature of the story; there are shades of the Bourne trilogy throughout, which enthrals the audience; the vengeful side of the story really packs a punch. At the centre of the film there is an excellent car chase that is brilliantly-executed and leaves you on the edge of your seat- it would not seem out of place in a classy 70’s cop thriller.
It is not a perfect film as some scenes feel unimaginative in style and engagement; these are scenes where dread and panic should be instilled in the audience, however, they come across a little flat in tension and atmosphere; such as the climax – it does not serve any justice to previous action scenes. In addition, some might find the story thread involving police detective Steiner (Tobias Moretti) and his ailing father (Friedrich von Thun) a little contrived and out-of-place, but I found some of these scenes endearing and at moments darkly comedic.
It is not just surface entertainment with Cold Hell, there is a darkly-eschewed premise for the killers means of attack and modus operandi involving the slaying of Muslim prostitutes, and the backstory of Ozge and her family/cultural roots could have been explored more through dramatic and dark unravelling.
Cold Hell is not a perfect film by any stretch, but for those seeking an engaging, dark euro thriller, then stop searching and check it out.