Directed by Mikkel Braenne Sandemose
Written by Peder Fuglerud & Lars Gudmestad
Starring: Ida Marie Bakkerud
Kim S. Falck-Jorgensen
**** (4/5 stars)
First off, I'll be reviewing the other two installments of this franchise soon but I wanted to do this one while still fresh in my mind. I waited a long time to finally see this, and just finished watching it earlier. I love prequels and Fritt Vilt III gives us a glimpse back at the traumatic childhood of a killer; the mountain man from the previous films in the series is given a much more elaborate backstory than what we had seen in the first and second Fritt Vilt. Just to give you an idea, the story basically revolves around a boy who ran away from home at a secluded mountain hotel into the Norwegian wilderness and was never found. After that there starts a wave of disappearances in the mountains around the hotel, the first two films involve current events but here in the third installment we get the real story about how his stepfather hated him because of his deformity (a large type of birthmark over the left eye and side of his face) and basically drove him from the hotel; later, the boy returns to kill the stepfather as well as his mother who seemingly stood by and let the abuse happen. Then we jump ahead 12 years as we watch a group of young people head out into the forest near the hotel, looking to find the abandoned place and search around for something interesting. We also get a glimpse of the boy's creepy uncle who inhabits the woods in a cabin out of the way, and the police officer who went searching for the boy 12 years ago but found nothing.
The one thing that surprised me was the backstory- in the other films, we get the impression that the boy simply ran off or got lost in the wilderness somewhere but this one gives us a look at the abusive past and what drove him to run. It's not long but we see enough to understand (not justify) why he went crazy and started killing. The uncle was a good addition because that gave us a feasible explanation for how the boy survived instead of freezing to death like you would imagine might happen to a young kid all alone. We get a big creep factor early on from the uncle and that adds to the somber tone of the film.
One of the things I love about this series in particular is that, like Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees, the killer is extremely, brutishly strong. A scene that really shows this is near the end when the uncle is fed up with him and points a shotgun in his direction- the killer grabs the shotgun so quick and hard that the uncle has no time to squeeze the trigger. It happens so fast that the viewer is all of a sudden in the room, shocked by the force of the mountain man. Another instance is the first kill, which I won't give away.
The killer is also calculating and intelligent, despite what you may think. One of the characters takes out his gun partway through, before they realize they're being hunted down, and loads it up- shortly after, as soon as the killer starts mowing through the rest of these people he takes out the guy with the gun first. This dashes all hopes in the viewer's mind that they might make it out of this easily- not likely. In a later scene after he disarms his uncle of the shotgun, the remaining two survivors run down into the basement and instead of just shooting where they were (if you notice, most movies are like that) he aims into the wall where they're running down the stairs and tries to blow them away through the hardwood. To me, these little things are what improve a movie killer's persona.
Something about this film I enjoyed thoroughly was that it changed up the scenery from the first two, instead of being snowbound this time we get a lot of good cinematography in the forests of Norway. Lots of green and brown, flourishing fauna, all sorts of beautiful imagery. This is one factor I think that makes all three films contrast well with the murder and mayhem that's going on inside it- we get these beautiful, serene looking locations and then atop all that there are people being murdered and beaten to death all around us. The locations here are wonderfully shot and it adds another level to this film.
The whole trilogy of Fritt Vilt is built upon strong female characters. In the first film it's a woman who is the survivor, battling him seemingly to death at the hands of a crevasse in the Norwegian tundras. The second picks right up after the first when the woman is hospitalized and the body of the killer is excavated from the pit he fell into, along with the victims he was dumping there- but then he wakes up in the hospital and she has to fight him all over again, with the help of a few reluctant individuals. The prequel is no different: the ones who are fighting the hardest to survive are the female characters. The men either end up dead or wounded severely. Of course we know it's a prequel so obviously the killer doesn't die, right? Well we still get that strong female character coming out on top but with a devastating twist at the end. The finale could have been very typical but it took a turn I really didn't expect and I was very pleased with that.
In all, there are some really creepy scenes that just chilled me to the bone and there are lots of great kills that you'd expect in a horror film. Lots of people don't think that the original film was a very good one but as a horror fanatic I found it amazing. The same people think that this was terrible but I think that it's a great prequel for an even greater series; this is a new age for slasher films. We need to constantly broaden the horizons of what constitutes a slasher film (and horror films in general) because we need more new ground for people to step on and experiment with. Norway has a few really great horror films that I've become an outrageous fan of- I wouldn't even mind seeing another one of these installments in the series, but who knows where that would take us. Either way, I hope more films like this start to come out.