LevelK has boarded Icelandic crime drama “Cold,” directed by Erlingur Óttar Thoroddsen and based on the bestselling book “The Undesired” (“Kuldi”) by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir. Still in production, it was recently pitched at Venice Gap-Financing Market.
The story centers on Óðinn, living alone with his daughter Rún. As he investigates decades-old deaths at a juvenile treatment center, he begins to suspect that the sinister secrets are connected to his ex-wife’s mysterious suicide. As well as his daughter’s strange behavior.
“Erlingur is an established, talented director who respects the audiences and finds it fascinating to thrill them,” says LevelK’s CEO Tine Klint.
“We were captured by his take on the book, his style and the entire team behind the production.”
Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson, Sara Dögg Ásgeirsdóttir and “Woman at War” lead Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir are all set to star.
“On the surface, ‘Cold’ certainly seems like a classic Nordic noir. But what makes it so interesting – and what makes Yrsa such a compelling author – is that the story constantly and deliberately veers away from these familiar elements, pulling the rug from under our feet,” Thoroddsen tells Variety.
“Every time you think you know where the story is going, something happens. A big part of what attracted me to the adaptation was that idea of gleeful subversion of expectations,” he adds. Comparing some of its aspects to the work of one of his favorite filmmakers, Brian De Palma.
“He would make a genre film and comment on that genre at the same time, presenting familiar elements with the intention of misleading the audience. Which, I felt, Yrsa was doing as well. De Palma is having a conversation with other filmmakers in real time, on the screen. ‘Cold’ isn’t really doing that, but that playful, self-reflective and genre-aware spirit is alive and well within it.”
Thoroddsen, also behind 2017 release “Rift” and “Child Eater,” had “love and fascination” for genre cinema and horror since childhood, he says.
“At first, it was more about the thrill of watching something that was forbidden. As I got older, I realized that horror had so much more to offer. It allows a filmmaker, as well as the audience, to touch upon very real and universal themes and fears,” he observes.
The Icelandic filmmaker, who is openly gay, is also interested in exploring queer horror in the future, after making “small contributions to the movement” with “Rift” and “Midnight Kiss,” one of the episodes of Blumhouse Television horror anthology series “Into the Dark,” which he wrote.
“It was a really fun project that I am extremely proud of. Working with Blumhouse and Carter Smith, the director, was a great experience. They were all so invested in creating an authentically queer slasher film. They wanted to push the buttons that were long overdue to be pushed,” he recalls.
“I love that queer horror is having a cultural moment, even though I would argue that horror has always been queer. It operates outside of the norm and it’s an inherently rebellious genre.”
He will also continue to venture outside of his native country thanks to the English-language version of “Rift,” currently in the works, and Millennium’s “The Piper” with Charlotte Hope and Julian Sands. Inspired by the tale of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, the “dark, modern-day fairytale” will feature the score by Emmy nominee Christopher Young.
“I have been a fan of his since I was a teenager. It’s a very music and sound-centric film, which was a challenge but I’m over the moon about the results. I am so thrilled for the world to hear what he has cooked up,” notes Thoroddsen.
“I think that the U.S. is often more open to certain types of genre films, but there is certainly a lot of untapped potential for horror in the freezing, dark Iceland. I took a step in that direction with ‘Rift’ and I am taking an even bigger step with ‘Cold.'”
“Cold” is produced by Heather Millard for Compass Films, also behind “Band,” and Sigurjón Sighvatsson for Eyjafjallajökull Entertainment.