Tuesday, October 6, 2009

30 Days of Fright - 05: Wind Chill

Death is a tricky subject at the best of times. The vast majority of horror films feature a load of killing and there's usually little in the line of remorse or consequnces, even for the survivors. I wonder how many teenage girls end up in therapy after all their friends are brutally slain one Halloween, Easter Sunday, or St. Patrick's night? Many films have looked at the notion of death and an afterlife and spirits, some with more success than others.

Wind Chill (2007), tells the story of a girl making her way home for Christmas. She's in college and trying to save a few quid so she checks out the notice board where people travelling home have advertised space in their cars in exchange for splitting the cost of the trip. One such ad is for a ride to her home town of Delaware. She then meets this guy (and I'm not trying to keep their details to myself, nor have I gone doddery, the characters in the film are never named, not even in the credits) who's going her way.

The two set off, and it becomes apparent that the girl is quite the bitch and the guy a little bit on the psycho side. After a brief stop the guy suddenly detours off the highway and takes a "scenic" route (which is a bit of a waste of time considering it's a late December evening). Along the back way the only traffic they encounter runs them off the road and they are stuck in a snow drift, miles from anywhere. During the course of the night their already dire situation gets worse and worse as they are visited by the ghostly inhabitants of what turns out to be a cursed stretch of road.

I love curry I do, but after a strong vindaloo a seat in a snow bank is often a good idea!

Wind Chill is a film that starts off so full of promise but unfortunately lets you down. The opening scenes in and around the college campus during the winter are moody and atmospheric and is, I guess, exactly what the film makers went for, all drab greys and piles of snow on concrete. The beginning of the road trip is the same with the north-eastern American contryside perfectly desolate and forboding. Once the guy and the girl get to the truck stop however the wheels come off the wagon and the film starts to slip into regular teen horror territory. Once they're off the highway and the weirdness starts any chance of making the audience care is long gone and the viewers time is spent trying to guess what the inevitable twist is - it's as if M. Night Shyamalan had written and directed the second and third acts of the movie.

Wind Chill is a functional horror as there are a few moments that make you jump and there are some nice creepy moments, but these fade quickly as the atmosphere from the start of the film peters out.

There's also an odd piece about religion in Wind Chill, and after seeing the movie I was left wondering if there was meant to be more to the story that somehow got left on the cutting room floor. The guy and girl are both in the same philosophy class in college; she's there as it's supposed to be an easy A grade and he's majoring in "Eastern Religions" (so a career in the food service industry awaits him upon graduation). Three of the ghostly characters encountered are Catholic Priests. This is obviously meant to mean something but it's never explained what. And during their terrifying night, neither the girl or the guy (who's actually studying religion) think to offer up a prayer to whatever God or Gods they believe in - if it had been me in that situation I'd have been bending the ears off the Almighty so much he'd have rescued me just to get me to shut up!

Two Thumbs Down for Wind Chill.

For greater detail (if that's possible) take a look at:
IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0486051/
Wind Chill Official Site: http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/windchill/
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_Chill_(film)

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