Combining brutal action with Giallo style, Cold Hell is a blast and a half sure to please fans of genre cinema. Director Stefan Ruzowitzsky passes the near-impossible task of incorporating Giallo elements in a modern feature, without becoming a fetishistic retro tribute. Mixing influences with an 80s-esque blend of violence and martial arts, Cold Hell reinvigorates the traditional thriller, separating itself from the ilk of its slow burn ancestors.
Ozge is a second-generation Turkish immigrant who uses her wages as a taxi driver to fund her studies and kickboxing classes. As a non practicing Muslim in Vienna, she finds herself isolated from both her family and society. Her generational malaise is shattered when she witnesses her neighbor’s murder and is spotted by the killer.
If the kickboxing wasn’t a big enough tell, Ozge is a badass. Where one might scream or recoil by instinct when faced with a dangerous situation, hers is to strike back. Her character allows the film to evolve from a simple cat and mouse chase to one where roles are continually switched. Creative uses of car chases, hand to hand fights, and gore all take part in a propulsive flow that leads to a satisfying conclusion.
Flaws in Cold Hell are minor. A defect from its action genre bloodline, there is some time wasted to a forced relationship. Nothing too cheesy but it’s one of the few things that detract from Cold Hell’s tone/pacing. Another distracting bit, parts of a car chase look as if the entire thing was filmed with motion blur/higher frame rate. I swear it looked like a soap opera at points, but maybe it was my mind playing tricks at the midnight showing of this.
On that note, Cold Hell makes great viewing any time of day. Its cracks are nowhere near enough to dissuade a fan of genre cinema from viewing. Lean and mean, Cold Hell swings for the fences and gets it right. Not since You’re Next has a thriller been this fun to watch.