WIND CHILL [2007] [HCF REWIND]

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HCF may be one of the newest voices on the web for all things Horror and Cult, and while our aim is to bring you our best opinion of all the new and strange that hits the market, we still cannot forget about our old loves, the films that made us want to create the website to spread the word.  So, now and again our official critics at the HCF headquarters have an urge to throw aside their new required copies of the week and dust down their old collection and bring them to the fore…. our aim, to make sure that you may have not missed the films that should be stood proud in your collection.

 

HCF REWIND NO.89. WIND CHILL [2007]

AVAILABLE ON DVD AND BLU RAY

RUNNING TIME: 91 mins

 

Prior to Christmas break, a young woman, known only as The Girl, decides to use the campus “Ride Share” program as an alternative to riding the bus back home to Delaware. Finding a posting on a bulletin board, she catches a ride home from a stranger, known only as The Guy, the day before Christmas Eve. It soon transpires that he knows rather more about her than he initially let on and she becomes increasingly worried as the journey proceeds. Then, when they find themselves on a frozen road that the Guy is convinced is a scenic short-cut, they are suddenly run off the road by a hit and runner……

If you’re a regular reader of this website you’ll probably know that I am a huge fan of Emily Blunt; she’s both drop-dead gorgeous and a fine actress who blows the likes of Keira Knightley out of the water. Just think how much better than Scarlet Johansson she would have been as Black Widow in Iron Man 2 and maybe The Avengers, a role she almost took but was contracted to make the god-awful Gulliver’s Travels instead. She seems to appear in quite a wide variety of films though hasn’t quite made it to superstardom, which in any case may not be the best thing for her. Wind Chill [which I can’t believe has taken me up to now to see] was her first film role after her break-out performance in The Devil Wears Prada and to be honest, how much you enjoy it will probably depend on how little you know.  Therefore this review will sound a little vague, but I hope you understand why. In any case, it’s a fairly intriguing, if in the end somewhat unsatisfying, combination oF survival drama and horror movie, with the two elements not entirely mixing well.

The film pulls an effective red herring in the early scenes when the Girl and the Guy meet each other. He is a little mysterious and after a while reveals that he deviously engineered their lift-share because he had a major crush on her and wanted to spend time with her. Sounds reasonable I suppose considering it’s Emily. The first third of Wind Chill consists mainly of car-bound conversations between the two and actually it’s rather interesting, because the barbed talk is well written and there’s an underlying tension. Blunt has a great knack for revealing characterisation with subtle gestures and actually Ashton Holmes is also very good the way he seems to make the viewer like his character one moment and dislike him the second. There’s one of those creepy gas stations with an oddball behind the counter that only seem to exist in horror movies and a really eerie scene where she seems to be locked in the bathroom for no reason. This is not actually explained at all, but nobody seems to complain in Vertigo when James Stewart sees Kim Novak go into that hotel and is then told by the receptionist that she hasn’t been there at all, so I suppose it doesn’t matter much.

After the two break down in the snow drift, there is a really vivid sense of being alone in the middle of nowhere and it seems that this is going to be like Frozen, but then a sinister cop shows up and spooky looking men start lurking about. The film definitely becomes a horror film of the supernatural kind, though it isn’t really scary. The basic idea is a sound one, a kind of urban legend you can imagine hearing in certain diners and bars [“you know all those people that were found frozen in that car down Route 606….?”], but there are bits of really bad storytelling such as the Girl learning some of what is going on through ‘reliving’ flashbacks that she wasn’t present at, and there are some random happenings that don’t makes sense, like a guy with an eel coming out of his mouth. Of course not all films of this nature need to make sense, but bits of this one seem to have been made up on the spot and it’s neither exciting nor frightening enough to atone for its incoherence. It’s a little tense in places, but too lackadaisical overall, though it was nice to see a horror film heroine who didn’t turn into Superwoman, and I did spend a few moments after the film had finished trying to work a few things out and saying to myself: “A ha!”, so it must have worked for me on some level.

The winter photography by Dan Lausten is quite evocative the way the snow seems to glisten in the dark and composer Clint Mansell, as usual,  gets a great deal of mileage from very little, but technically the film is uneven; I could easily tell what scenes were shot on a soundstage and what scenes weren’t due to their breath. I wanted to really like Wind Chill; it has a chilling [sorry] premise, two good leading performances and does its best to be subtle and not rely on things like gore and cheap scares, but it doesn’t really work for the most part. Some minor reshoots and re-editing may have considerably helped it. Saying that, any film where you will probably end up debating what happened with the person you saw it with is worth a look in my book. And if you’re like me and consider Christmas songs things of evil, you’ll certainly relate to their uncanny use here.

Rating: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

About Dr Lenera 3109 Articles
I'm a huge film fan and will watch pretty much any type of film, from Martial Arts to Westerns, from Romances [though I don't really like Romcoms!]] to Historical Epics. Though I most certainly 'have a life', I tend to go to the cinema twice a week! However,ever since I was a kid, sneaking downstairs when my parents had gone to bed to watch old Universal and Hammer horror movies, I've always been especially fascinated by horror, and though I enjoy all types of horror films, those Golden Oldies with people like Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee probably remain my favourites. That's not to say I don't enjoy a bit of blood and gore every now and again though, and am also a huge fan of Italian horror, I just love the style.

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