Saturday, 16 March 2019

Shudder Saturday: The Thaw (2009)

The Thaw isn't a bad movie. Not really. It's just too derivative, and doesn't do enough with the main premise, to become a truly good movie. If more characters had been thrown into the mix, leading to more moments of peril, and if the ending didn't feel so silly then it could have been an excellent little horror flick that would make viewers itchy in between moments of extreme unpleasantness.

Val Kilmer plays Dr. David Kruipen, a research scientist who makes an astonishing, and terrifying, discovery while working in the Canadian Arctic. Unfortunately, that discovery takes place just before he is due to be joined by a group of "lucky" students AND his disgruntled daughter. When the youngsters arrive at the main camp, they find it unsettlingly quiet. I would say it was uninhabited but, in all honesty, something is still residing there. Lots of little, dangerous, somethings that have defrosted and are looking to continue their normal life cycle.

There are plenty of movies I could name here that cover similar territory to this, but with better results. The Bay, Ticks, Blood Glacier, Deep Freeze (okay, not better, but similar anyway), and, of course, the "Ice" episode of The X-Files. That's the biggest problem. Pick any of those movies, or that TV show episode, and you will be more entertained.

Although he's put front and centre on the poster design, and in the cast list, Kilmer is offscreen for a lot of this movie. He's fine in his role, but it's one of those roles that uses a star name to play a character vital to events without having to pay them more for being in more of the runtime. Sadly, none of the younger cast members are as good as Kilmer, with the best of the bunch being Aaron Ashmore. Martha MacIsaac is okay as the grumpy daughter, but Kyle Schmid and Steph Song are far too forgettable, making it hard to care during the moments that try to rack up the tension. Anne Marie Loder (billed as Anne Marie Deluise) is okay as another member of the core group at the camp, and Viv Leacock is good in the role of Bart, the guy who takes everyone up to the base by helicopter and then sticks around to try and help.

Mark A. Lewis directs capably enough, and there are some good gore effects used throughout that mix practical work and fairly decent CGI, but he's let down most by the script, which he co-wrote with Michael Lewis. The two writers seem to think that the core idea is strong enough to carry things along with no need for tension throughout most of the first half, forgetting that they should also scatter some more treats throughout, in the shape of either scares, gore gags, or, y'know, decent characterisation to have viewers invested in the third act.

That's not to say that they weren't almost correct though. Despite there not being much memorable here (from the cast to the score to the set-pieces), this still manages to be worth a watch, all thanks to the fact that it's a creepy-crawly creature feature. But it has nothing in it to warrant a revisit, and the sheer awfulness of the twist in the final act, which I won't spoil, almost undoes all of the good work.


You can buy the movie here.
Americans can buy it here.
Or just click on those links and go shopping for better movies. I win, you win.

Part of a poster that in no way represents the actual movie!

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