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'Cold Hell' Toronto After Dark 2017 Review: A hard-hitting revenge-thriller that resonates with timely themes

October 23, 2017Ben MK

When a woman inadvertently witnesses the brutal demise of her neighbor through her apartment window, she finds herself the potential next victim of a serial killer. But there's one thing this mass murderer never anticipated — and that's for his prey to fight back.

After introducing taxi driver Özge (newcomer Violetta Schurawlow) and giving viewers a preview of her ability to more than hold her own in a fight, director Stefan Ruzowitzky and screenwriter Martin Ambrosch set the narrative on a fairly standard trajectory. But even though Cold Hell borrows from a myriad of mid-90s, female-led revenge thrillers, it still manages to carve out its own little niche, thanks in large part to Schurawlow's tough-yet-vulnerable turn as the movie's lead, not to mention the scenes of visceral and oftentimes graphic violence.

What makes Cold Hell especially interesting, however, are its depictions of religious fanaticism and deep-seated, culturally-rooted misogyny from a non-western perspective. And even though these aspects of the film aren't fully explored during its relatively brief running time, it still adds some intriguing depth to an otherwise rote tale.

Cold Hell is receiving its Toronto premiere at Toronto After Dark 2017.

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