COLD MEAT (2023)
Cold Meat should be gone into — no pun intended — as cold as possible. Learning too much about director Sébastien Drouin’s winter-set horror thriller before watching it would be doing a great disservice to yourself. Suffice it to give you the initial set-up: traveler David (Allen Leech) is traveling through an extremely snowy area in Colorado. He stops off at a diner, where he calmly intervenes when waitress Ana (Nina Bergman) is physically and verbally harassed by her drunken ex Vincent (Yan Tual), who leaves without further incident. When David gets back on the road, Vincent pursues him in a larger vehicle and David strands his car in deep snow when trying to elude the violent man. What follows is a combination of survival horror — taking place mostly in David’s car and its immediate surroundings — and another fear-fare element that would be a big spoiler to give away here, and there may be something lurking nearby that isn’t only a recurring nightmare of David’s. Leech and Bergman are both terrific, and the freezing environment that Drouin crafts — with excellent, realistic help from Makeup Department Head Ikara Gamache-Howard — is palpable. Cold Meat gets a strong recommendation from me. It offers some real surprises along with finely honed suspense and gripping performances.
Cold Meat photos courtesy of Signature Entertainment
THE DIVE (2023)
Director Max Erlenwein’s English-language German production The Dive, a remake of writer/director Joachim Hedén’s 2020 Swedish film Breaking Surface — Erlenwein and Hedén cowrote this English-language remake — finds sisters Drew (Sophie Lowe) and May (Louisa Krause) on an annual trip that May seems uninterested in. Family issues are hinted at from the beginning, with slow further reveals throughout the film as the pair go on a cave-diving trip near a remote Maltan beach. Realistic survival horror abounds after a landslide that affects the diving area traps May underwater and their extra oxygen tanks and other gear under rocks on the beach. While May insists on the both of them remaining calm so as not to use up their air supplies quickly, she is left to her haunting thoughts as Drew goes back and forth from the water to the beach, increasingly risking the bends each time. Lowe gives a fine performance that asks much of her both emotionally and physically, while Krause also gets chances to stretch in a performance in which her character has much on her mind — and that is before she succumbs to the dreamscapes that the deep can provide. Not just another underwater peril movie, this well-crafted thriller provides some solid nailbiting as it presents realistic circumstances in a race against time that are beautifully captured by cinematographer Frank Griebe.
Cold Meat and The Dive screened as part of the 2023 Pigeon Shrine FrightFest, which ran August 24–28 in London. For more information, visit https://frightfest.co.uk/.