SCREENWRITER OF THE NORWEGIAN HORROR 'FRITT VILT' (COLD PREY, 2006)
by Dejan Ognjanovic
GROSSMANN FILM FESTIVAL (2007) presented a number of independent, low budget and horror films in a small Slovenian town Ljutomer. One of those was 'FRITT VILT' (COLD PREY, 2006), a Norwegian slasher which ended up winning the top prize of the festival, THE OLD VICIOUS CAT for a feature film. The award was received by THOMAS MOLDESTAD, who was responsible for the derivative, uninspired and by-the-numbers screenplay about a group of young snow-boarders who end up isolated in an abandoned mountain resort where a masked killer starts killing them (mostly off-screen). Solid acting and excellent photography somewhat redeem its tired plot, but its main selling point remains the fact that it's one of few horrors to come from this country.
Here's what Mr. Moldestad had to say in an exclusive interview to Dejan Ognjanovic (conducted in 2007).
-How did this project start? What was the initial idea? Why horror – why this kind of (slasher) horror?
I was, actually, a bit of a hired hand. One of the producers came up with the idea of a group of young snow-boarders and of some gruesome killer who would be killing them. His synopsis was nothing like the final film, and the director, whom I knew from film school, asked: "Can you write a horror film in three weeks?" and I said "No", and he said: "Can you try?" So I wrote the first version, and again it was nothing like the final film. A few more drafts later and we got there. There was a lot of collaboration from the director and producers, lots of meetings and feedback, and the very final polish, the shooting script, the director did it, I had nothing to do it. The entire ending is completely his. So, I can't take the credit for the inspiration or the idea behind it, I was hired to write the script.
-Was it difficult to raise finances for a film like this in Norway?
In Norway we have a budgeting system that, if you can get half of the budget, the Film Fund gives you the rest. If you have a reasonable budget, like COLD PREY, which is really a medium budget film, the producers were good at raising the money for it.
-So, you didn't have any problem convincing producers that Norwegians would like to see a domestic horror film?
No, because this particular financing system is devoted to helping such projects.
-What was your previous experience with the horror genre? Do you have any personal liking towards the genre? How familiar were you with it and would you care to be associated with it in the future?
I feel very comfortable within the horror genre, absolutely. I'm not the great connoisseur like some of the people at this festival, but it is a genre that I'm very fond of. Some of my favorite films are in this genre, like THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, JAWS, THE EXORCIST, EVIL DEAD 2, THE OMEN.
-Almost all the movies you mentioned are from the '70s, but the movie that you made is more akin to the post-SCREAM teen slashers of the late '90s.
Sure, you always have to be aware of the audience, and the audience has seen all this from the '70ies. You don't work in the vacuum. My inspiration is certainly older than the recent cycle of films.
-What can you tell us about the cultural background. We're not really used to seeing horror films from Norway. Are there any horrors from your country worth mentioning?
There is one classic, whose title would translate as LAKE OF THE DEAD. I haven't seen it. I believe it was made in the '60ies or thereabouts. I should know this, but I don't.
-Are there any more recent horrors?
There was one that could be translated as WILD WOODS, from the late nineties or around the millennium. I guess it would be a kind of slasher, but it's very soft compared to our film. There is a group of people in the woods, and there is an unseen threat killing them off. Something like BLAIR WITCH PROJECT meets FRIDAY THE 13TH.
-Is the threat supernatural, or is the killer just a regular psycho with no supernatural powers?
He's not supernatural, it's just a guy killing people. It is similar in some respects to COLD PREY.
-What was the response to COLD PREY in your country, and how about foreign festivals and distribution?
It was originally surprisingly well received by the Norwegian critics, and it was the second highest grossing of a domestic film in cinemas of last year. It was seen by, roughly, a quarter of a million people. It's been released in several countries, but it's too early to tell, it only premiered in Norway less than a year ago, so we still have to see how it does abroad. I heard recently that it was in the top ten in Mexico City, which blew me away. It is showing in Spain, in Ecuador…
-Was it shown in America, and are there at least plans for a DVD?
I think they're still negotiating that. From what I'd heard, it was very well received in some American festivals. It was shown at Slamdance.
-So, is there a possible sequel in the works? Or some other genre film that you're working on?
We're certainly thinking about it, and it's something we'd want to do. Right now I don't have any other horror, or even violent thriller kind of projects lined up.