cold hell | die holle | stefan ruzowitzky | martin ambrosch | violetta schurawlow | tobias moretti | robert palfrader | revenge | giallo | action | thriller | germany | austria | sammy sheik | friedrich von thun | murathan muslu | verena altenberger | steffan anton
Film: Cold Hell (Die Hölle)
Director: Stefan Ruzowitzky
Writer: Martin Ambrosch
Starring: Violetta Schurawlow, Tobias Moretti and Robert Palfrader
This was a film that I was intrigued by when I read a review on a site that I write for. The concept of the film peaked my interest, so I decided to give it a viewing while doing my year-end round-up of horror films. The officially synopsis is a vicious serial killer is targeting prostitutes in Vienna, Austria. A tough, young woman from Turkey, who works as a taxi driver, witnesses one of the murders and becomes a target. The police are of no help, so she must stop him herself.
Our main character is Özge Dogruol (Violetta Schurawlow). We get a glimpse into her life as a taxi driver. This job is definitely something we see is not very enjoyable as she has to deal with all kinds of riders. To make matters worse, she is a Muslim from Turkey, in a day and age where those from not only that area, but those that practice the faith are looked down upon due to terrorism. To build even more, she is a woman as well.
While we are getting to know her through the interactions of those around her, we cut to a room. We see a woman undress as she looks out the window. She is then attacked by someone. They are gearing up to do something quite horrific.
When Özge returns home, she seems to notice something that smells horrible. As she searches, she ends up looking across the way into someone else’s apartment. She sees the aftermath of the attack we saw earlier. She also realizes that the person who committed it sees her. She flees, hoping that the killer didn’t get a good enough look.
Things take quite the turn though when the killer seeks into her apartment and slits the throat of her cousin. He thinks it is Özge, but soon realizes that this other woman. It is actually Ranya (Verena Altenberger), she is just wearing the jacket he saw Özge was previously.
Özge is now out to protect not only herself, but Ranya’s daughter Ada (Elif Nisa Uyar). This brings her to the police officer who is rude to her, Christian Steiner (Tobias Morretti), where she learns that everyone is dealing with something privately. He is also out to help track down this killer who has done similar things all over the world.
This film was quite interesting to me, because it kind of feels like it is combining a lot of different elements together. One of the first things that struck me is this almost feels like a modern day giallo. We have a killer that we don’t know who it is at first, but interestingly enough we get to see his face pretty early. It is in the shadows, but we see exactly what Özge sees. It is also interesting it has that giallo feel as it is from Germany and Austria.
Another aspect of the film though is the revenge aspect. This doesn’t have the normal rape that we see for these types of films, but it does an amazing job at establishing Özge and the things that she has to deal with on a daily basis. I hear my female friends talk about things like what she experiences, but this film really does hit you in the face with it. I liked to see it to bring a perspective I don’t get as a male. The film also presents things from her past that shaped her who she is.
The concept of why the killer does what he does was something that makes sense. I won’t spoil this reason, but it deals with religion. I thought the full reveal of this was good and it is actually partially why I do not follow organized religion. Big fan though of how it fits in with the film for sure.
If there was really something negative I have to say about the film, it deals with the pacing. It doesn’t mess around with getting us to the initial couple plot points and it really pulled me in early. I do think that the film does focus a little too much on her trying to establish what to do with Ada and it kind of stalls for a bit. I don’t think we should take off as much time as we do before getting back to the hunt of who the killer is. I do think that when it picks back up, it does rebuild the tension for a solid finale. I do also like that Özge finally has enough and snaps.
Going from there, the acting though was really good. I have to give a lot of credit to Schurawlow as she did an amazing job in this role. I would never pry or ask her, but she does seem to be pulling from real trauma she has dealt with, because she was absolutely phenomenal at making it seem like person who is really dealing with this. Moretti I thought brings an interesting depth to the character. When we learn more about his personal life, I thought it makes sense to his role. Sammy Sheik does a solid job in his role as well. He adds quite the creepiness for sure. The rest of the cast do round out the film for what was needed, but it really is mostly Schurawlow.
The effects for the film I would say for the most part were well done. It does look like most of it was CGI, but I really can’t recall any that were bad or took me out of the film. There are some that I was quite impressed by as well. One of them involves fire, which can always be tricky and another involves a pen through the jaw of someone. The latter really made me cringe. I would say that the film is shot very well also and part of this comes from the use of colored lights. That is another aspect that reminded me of giallos or one of my favorite films in Suspiria.
Now with that said, this was a film that I heard good things about, but just hadn’t gotten around to seeing it. I definitely glad I had, because this film has some interesting concepts to it. It is sad to see how much of a struggle life can be for someone like Özge as she is such a minority due to different things. Learning things about her past and seeing why she is so guarded definitely helps bring this film to life. Going even farther, this film has such good concepts to go along with this as well. There was a bit of a pacing issue, but it does correct itself. I thought the rest of the acting definitely was solid. The effects were as well and the film is shot very well. The score of the film really didn’t stand out to me too much; it did fit the scenes for what they needed. I will warn you this is a foreign film and I had to watch it with subtitles on. If that is an issue, I would avoid this one. If not, I did find this film to be very good.
My Rating: 9 out of 10