THE CHILL FACTOR (1993) aka Demon Possessed
Directed by Christopher Webster
Available on Arrow Video Blu-Ray
Jeannie, her boyfriend Tom and their friends are enjoying a snowmobile trip when Tom decides to challenge his sister Karen’s boyfriend, trainee doctor Chris, to a snowmobile race to see who’s fastest. Battling on Black Friar’s Lake, the duo speed to the finish line but, unable to stop, Tom crashes his snowmobile and plummets head-first into a tree. Unconscious with a bad head injury, open fracture to his hand and suspected internal injuries, the group know they have no choice but to find help nearby rather than travel the 30 miles back to town. Karen and friend Ron discover an abandoned church camp lodge and decide it’s the perfect place to look after Tom until morning.
With Chris tending to the injured Tom, Ron decides to travel the 30 miles needed to get help even though the threat of a snow storm may stop him in his tracks. After recovering from shock, Tom finally wakes up from his unconscious state with his friends and girlfriend looking to make him as comfortable as possible so he can make it through the night.
As Tom’s rests, the group decide to play around with ouija board-style game they discover inside the lodge. Despite her protests, Jeannie finally decides to join in with the group as they attempt to speak with the dead. Unfortunately for them, their dabbling awakens an evil spirit that proceeds to stalk the lodge, just as it did years previously when it was an active Christian camp.
THE CHILL FACTOR takes the tropes of your typical horror movie and sets them against the backdrop of a snow-covered setting in this mediocre, supernatural slasher. Narrated by an elder Jeannie, the film looks back at her youth as she describes her time out on Black Friar’s Lake with her friends and boyfriend Tom. From the initial scenes, you instantly get an uneasy feeling about Tom with Jeannie painting a picture of a guy who’s merely with her for convenience or social pressures. It doesn’t help a little later in the movie when we see him groping his own sister’s arse in a local bar either, as you being to wonder what the real relationship is with his sister Karen and why Jeannie, nor Karen’s lover Chris, have not said a word to them about their incestual over-familiarity.
The beginning of the movie takes place at a bar where the audience are introduced to the film’s characters before building up to Chris and Tom’s face-off. Their race on the snow-covered lake is merely a set up though for the horror inside the abandoned lodge once occupied by St Dominic’s church. Statues of Jesus bleeding at his impalement on the cross and other religious artefacts dotted around the lodge give off the usual creepy religious vibes we’ve seen time and time before but it’s the stuffed animals in a sideroom which really become a cause for concern, and this is even before the oujia board comes out.
THE CHILL FACTOR fancies itself as a snowbound slasher and I suppose in some ways it is. However, the film also ventures into supernatural spirit haunting territory as the two styles attempt to blend. Unfortunately, the slasher element, although innovative with its ideas, never truly pays off as during almost all of the death sequences the camera cuts away. The first death scene in particular opts for a Janet Leigh in Psycho experience but simply doesn’t work as well as that beautifully edited scene, even if copious amounts of blood splatter stains the walls. With the camera focused on other elements during the death scenes, it’s hard to actually enjoy the movie for what it is. Let’s face facts, if it’s a slasher movie, we want to see carnage and be frightened to the core. Unfortunately, THE CHILL FACTOR does neither.
Apart from the novel idea of being set on snow with snowmobiles as the mode of transport, THE CHILL FACTOR has very little going for it. It feels low budget but seems to never really attempt to punch above its weight like most B-movies do, which is a disappointment. The supernatural element is laughable and the slasher element is only marginally better. The film also has an odd racial angle, as Ron’s mixed-race girlfriend Lissa gets abuse more than once during the running time. Though the film does display the language and opinions as being out-of-line, there’s no reason why the comments should have been included in the first place as the plot nor the environment it’s set in requires it.
Lacking real oomph and suspense for a slasher, it wouldn’t surprise me if other film fans give this horror a frosty reception.
Arrow Video have released THE CHILL FACTOR with a new 2k restoration from original film elements with uncompressed 2.0 stereo audio. The film comes with an array of extras including audio commentary and interviews with makeup artist Jeffrey Lyle Segal, production manager Alexandra Reed and stunt coordinator Gary Paul. The Blu-Ray also features the VHS trailer, stills gallery and reversible sleeve featuring new and original cover art.