Hell yeah, October is finally here! First up in our 31 Days of Horror, a slighting chilling Val Kilmer picture…
Straight outta Canada, “The Thaw” is – weirdly enough – a politically conscious rip-off of John Carpenter’s “The Thing” (which happens to be my favorite horror movie.) Global warming is the theme here, and we’re not talking underlying. It’s pretty overt, maybe even heavy handed. The film doesn’t try to tap into fears about global warming so much as actually use a loosely connected monster movie to try to get a cautionary message across. All told, it isn’t too annoying in this regard, which it easily could’ve been, but I do think something about the preachiness made it less scary.
A group of science students travel to the arctic research facility of Dr. David Kruipen (Val Kilmer) to learn from his work regarding the melting ice caps. The Dr. has just made a grave discovery, though, as hatching parasites found on a well preserved wooly mammoth carcass prove to be devastating to his team of scientists. The students arrive to find the empty facility, and it’s not long before bugs are scuttling over tiled floors and stainless steel counter tops, picking off college kids one by one in classic horror fashion.
Truth be told, the storyline of “The Thaw” even more closely resembles that of a Season 1 “The X-Files” episode, “Ice,” which was also heavily influenced by “The Thing,” even going so far as to hire the same set designer as the John Carpenter movie.
It’s not the recycled story that lets this movie down, though, or even the cast, all of whom do a pretty a respectable job. (Kilmer is only in the movie for about 10 minutes, but the younger leads – “Superbad‘s” Martha MacIsaac and “Veronica Mars” alum Aaron Ashmore, in particular, bring a lot of life to their roles, considering the material.)
TV Casualties Rating:
|Run Time: 94 minutes|
|Directed by: Mark A. Lewis
|Written by: Mark A. Lewis and Michael Lewis
|Starring: Val Kilmer, Aaron Ashmore, Martha MacIsaac
|Theatrical Release: N/A
|DVD Release: 10/06/09|
|Production Budget: N/A|
|Domestic Gross: N/A|
|Metacritic Score: N/A|
|Rotten Tomatoes Rating: N/A|
The production quality fails the movie. Clumsy directing syphoned suspense away multiple times. Those long, quiet scenes that lead up to a startlingly loud noise would cut to a new angle just before the bang, totally undermining that lingering anticipation and moment of surprise. It’s like they were going through the motions of a horror movie cliché without having any idea what made it work in the first place. The opening sequence also looked very cheap and amateurish. It aimed for a fast paced, semi-disturbing montage juxtaposing graphic footage of wounds and flame with news clips about global warming – sort of like a crappy version of the weird videos in “The Ring” – but the way it was edited seemed dated and trite.
The biggest failure, especially when holding this up to “The Thing“, was the utter lack of a paranoid and desolate atmosphere. It didn’t capture the claustrophobia of being isolated with characters pushed to the edge, unsure of any of the people around them; those slow shots creeping over the blustery tundra that stretches on as far as they can see in every direction. “The Thaw” didn’t deliver on those almost intangible style elements that make a great horror movie “feel” creepy and interesting. And when it comes down to it, a horror movie lacking style, lacking a particular atmosphere to capture our imaginations, is almost not a horror movie at all.