Directed by: Beqa Jguburia, Levan Bakhia
Written by: Beqa Oniani, Levan Bakhia, Lloyd S. Wagner
Starring: Christina Ulloa, Michael Copon, Scout Taylor-Compton, Travis Van Winkle, Tyler Mane
(15) Running time: 88 minutes
Directors: Levan Bakhia, Beqa Jguburia
Writers: Levan Bakhia, Beqa Oniani, Lloyd S Wagner
Cast: Scout Taylor-Compton, Christina Ulloa, Travis Van Winkle, Michael Copon, Tyler Mane
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish
Classic ‘situation’ horrors such as Open Water, The Reef, Black Water, Adrift and Frozen have proven that you can use a very basic premise and turn it into something truly horrific and frightening. Most of those films were based on true stories, and along comes 247°F to add to that list of situation horror based on something that actually happened. The fact that the makers and writers of this film are all from Georgia, where the event took place, and the fact the film was also shot there, add some extra authenticity to the proceedings. So, in comparison, Open Water featured sharks and some truly traumatizing scenes. Adrift featured a group of friends stranded in the ocean, Black Water and The Reef featured a vicious Croc and a Great White Shark respectively, and Frozen was all about friends trapped on a ski-lift and contained cold weather and wolves. 247°F features a group of friends trapped in a sauna, and as heavily used in the marketing campaign, it also features Scout Taylor-Compton and Christina Ulloa spending the entire film in their bikini’s, just thought I’d throw that one in!
Now, while this film is very pleasing on the eye (both Taylor-Compton and Ulloa are seriously hot in every sense of the word!), it is actually a very well made, and very tight thriller that uses it’s very simple story to maximum effect. As with these types of films, I was a little concerned how the story of being trapped in a sauna could be stretched over 90 minutes, but the directors and writers have done a superb job at creating some serious tension and some excellent thrills that will satisfy horror fans and thriller fans alike. Those who enjoyed films like Open Water will love this, and the added bonus of some serious eye candy should see 247°F find a deservedly much wider audience.
A short time is spent introducing the characters: a group of friends who haven’t been together for some time decide to head to a country cabin for some relationship fixing. Jenna (Taylor-Compton) is our main character, and we learn that she is still struggling to deal with the death of her boyfriend after a horrific car accident. Renee (Ulloa) and Michael (Copon) are a couple on the verge of breaking up, and Ian (Van Winkle) is Michael’s former best friend, and the pair have not seen each other for two years. They meet up with a plan to head to a local party to get wildly drunk and have night to remember, and as they arrive at the cabin all is well. They meet the owner, Wade (Mane), and he tells them of a top of the range sauna he has installed. The sauna is magnificent, and located right next to the lake, the friends can dip in and out of the lake and sauna as they go from hot to cold and back again. All seems well as the lads get more drunk and Jenna finally relaxes.
Things begin going wrong when Michael has too much to drink, argues with Renee and storms off. In a strange turn of events, Jenna, Renee and Ian end up trapped in the sauna with no way of escape. With the heat rising, and Michael passed out somewhere in the cabin, the three trapped friends do whatever they can to survive, and somehow try and get someone’s attention in the hope of rescue. To say much more about the film would seriously spoil your enjoyment, but if you think that setup doesn’t have the legs to carry it for just over an hour, then you’d be mistaken! For starters, watching the two actresses flaunt their good looks while getting very hot and sweaty is fun enough, but the film becomes increasingly more tense, and somehow the story manages to deliver a few twists, shocks and moments of genuine panic.
Many moments will lead you to believe one thing, and then will cleverly turn what you were thinking on its head as to trick you. You could also argue that what happens is totally unbelievable and could never happen, until a turn of events shows that this really could happen to anyone, and you will probably think twice before stepping into a sauna again. Most of all though, the film relies on its strong characters and clever writing which really gets you involved, and more often than not will surprise you. The writers and directors have done a tremendous job in building things up and knocking them down, and you get a sense of enjoyment from the makers in the way they play with your emotions and thoughts on what happens next.
In the wrong hands, 247°F would have failed miserably, but thankfully all involved here keep the proceedings exciting, fresh and totally unpredictable. The film is littered with incredible tension, some superbly crafted shocks and total dedication to telling a nightmare story, and telling it with nasty intent and total focus on believability and understanding in the characters actions. No one puts a foot wrong here, and it is very difficult to find fault with the pacing, acting, directing or writing. 247°F delivers exactly what is promised on the tin, and you will be hard pushed to find a better, simpler tale of things gone wrong in the worst possible way all year.