Fantasia 2017 Review: COLD HELL, Hard Hitting Action Film Lashes Out Against Patriarchal Violence, And Connects, Hard
Ozge is a Turkish-born taxi driver on the streets of Vienna. By night she drives the cab. During the day she trains in Kickboxing. Her sister Ranya is in a disintegrating marriage with Ozge’s boss, along with a young daughter to care for. Ozge also will not go to her parents home because there is a history with her father that will come up later in the film that is as troubling as any of the events that will unfold throughout the film. And now that a fundamentalist serial killer is on her trail she will have to take this killer on by herself if justice is to be served.
Director Stefan Ruozwitsky quickly establishes the stakes in Cold Hell in two parallel opening scenes. Ozge is on her shift and has to step out of her cab to lay a beat down on a guy who will not move his car out of the way and slings sexual slurs at her. Alongside this scene our mysterious serial killer savagely murders a prostitute in her own room and mutilates the body according to an ancient rite.
When Ozge gets home after her shift she picks up the odor of his handiwork wafting into her apartment. When she goes to look out the window and investigate she spies a mutilated corpse in the apartment across from her. The killer sees her and the game of cat and mouse begins. Ozge wants help from the police but they are only willing or are unable to help so much. The killer looms ever closer to his next target, Ozge.
What he probably does not know, but we are anticipating he will find out, is that Ozge is a highly trained kickboxer. With anger issues. Ghosts from her past haunt her and are likely fuel for her abundant rage. Early in the film she easily hands a cocky fighter his ass and a lot of his teeth in a sparring match for instance. Very early in the film we begin to understand that Ozge is a lady you do not want to fuck with.
Uzbekistani actress Violetta Schurawlow is amazing as Ozge. She expertly rides the emotional rollercoaster that is the issues with her family and the fear of being hunted down by a psycho killer with no one really stepping up to offer any sort of meaningful help for her. But she is hardly a victim in this case as she is also fierce as fuck and is willing to step into the proverbial ring and go a few rounds with anyone that gets up in her grill.
Cold Hell is a genre film that neatly blends together horror elements with all out action sequences to balance it out. The serial killer moves within the Giallo-esque world, using knives and torture to finish off his chosen victims in color saturated enviroments. Ozge uses the gifts that Allah gave her. Her fists, and boy howdy does she let them fly. Cold Hell does present Violetta Schurawlow as a viable female lead actor for any action franchise looking to up the ante on femme fatales and heroes.
I could not help but feel a tinge of guilt later in the film when Ozge walks into Detective Steiner’s bedroom with only panties and a t shirt on. While this unfortunately has its place, like a gallery on The Chive, here in Cold Hell it feels out of place and out of character. It is a weak moment of Male wish fulfillment, here is the tough as nails girl who suddenly and inexplicably just needs the comfort of a good man, that will solve everything she is going through. It does nothing to further the story or raise the stakes. Thankfully the scene does not go into montage territory but they do wake up together in the morning. Cut that scene out and it does nothing to change the story or any character’s motivation and I am sure anyone looking for something from Schurawlow to be aroused about can find it elsewhere, if they really have to. Enjoy her for what she is in this, just a simply bad ass female with an unfortunate past that has made her more than ready to not be the victim today.
Ozge, and her sister Ranya and their mother, are the victims of a patriarchal system that too many women are in this world. Ozge the hero that so many of them need.