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Cold Meat (Film Review)

3 min read

While the United States of America is a vast mass of land, it might be fair to say the areas that are most remote are often those that feel like the most dangerous. At least in cinematic terms, if not in reality. The vast swathes of isolated land between major towns and cities have often been mined for cinema's most terrifying oddballs and psychopaths. Add to that sense of isolation a snowstorm and a tense sense of claustrophobia and you begin to get a feel for the atmospheric nature that spills off the screen in Cold Meat

The film starts out with a solo driver, David (), traversing the cold, rural expanse of the American countryside before stopping at a diner for a coffee during a terrible snowstorm. David runs into trouble in the form of Vincent (Yan Tual), who's drunk and harassing his ex-wife and diner waitress Ana (Nina Bergman). After David plays the good Samaritan, saving Ana from harm and despatching Vincent, he moves forward with his journey alongside Ana, only to come unstuck on the icy road and skid into a field. Confined to a car with the risk of freezing to death, David and Ana are left in a tense battle for survival as David's initial heroism seems to have been a front.

There have been plenty of examples of single-location horror/ movies over the past few decades that have done a great job in creating a sense that the walls are closing in. In most cases, those films have focused on a single victim of a crime, trapped somewhere hoping to escape, or a group of victims trying to avoid being picked off. What Cold Meat does so well is turn that concept on its head. Ana and David are trapped together, unable to trust each other, with Ana playing the role of David's would-be victim yet holding the initiative with a blade to David's throat. However, with the cold creeping in and David carrying a serious leg injury, they are forced to work together, to communicate and to warily cooperate. The story has twists and turns, but to create that level of drama and intrigue while essentially setting the vast majority of the film in a single location is a very impressive feat. 

In using a single location, the film's success or failure hangs on the performances of its leads. With the very real possibility that if they don't deliver, the whole thing falls apart. Luckily, the two acting performances here are sensational. Nina Bergman is utterly believable as Ana, bringing a grit and determination to survive that makes her constantly feel like a worthy opponent for her captor. On the other side, Allen Leech is unsettling and menacing as David, switching with alarming ease between being charming and affable one minute, and a total sociopath the next. There's an uneasy element to everything he says that makes the film tick.

Signature Entertainment

Behind the camera, director Sébastien Drouin keeps the space of the car feeling both familiar and terrifying. It's testament to how well-drawn the characters and setting are, with the action tightly shot. Cold Meat could easily have meandered and dragged in such a small setting, but the writing is inventive enough to make it work. When coupled with some innovative make-up work, there's a distinct sense of peril and the difficult decisions required to survive despite not being able to trust each other. 

It's a film that does a lot with very little — avoiding the feel of a low-budget thriller — by allowing the acting performances and unusual setting to provide the drama. The tension ramps up throughout, turning the traditional kidnap-murder-thriller on its head in a way that's sure to bring viewers the chills.

Signature Entertainment presents Cold Meat on Digital Platforms 26th February