Wind Chill (2007)

Wind-Chill-2007

There Are Worse Things Than Dying

A girl seeking a ride home from college for the holidays answers a message from an on-campus notice board offering a lift to anyone going to Delaware. She meets the guy and together they set off for home. On the way, he takes a detour to a supposed short-cut where the car skids off the road to avoid an oncoming car. Stuck in the car in the middle of nowhere, trapped in a snow drift and with the temperature dropping quickly, they soon realise that they aren’t alone when they see sinister figures moving around in the snow.

 

In a day and age of torture porn flicks and teen horrors as snappily edited as a music video, Wind Chill is an old school throwback to a more psychological era of horror when it wasn’t about how many people are killed off, it wasn’t about how gory or brutal it could be and it wasn’t about how much money you could throw at special effects – it was about crafting a good story through a methodical build-up and creating suspense and tension. Is this change of pace a good thing though? I’m up for watching any horror film but modern audiences are too programmed in to fast, flashy and ultimately shallow films that they’ll just think this is too slow?

It takes some time in setting up the characters and the eventual situation but it’s for the better. As this is only a small cast (literally the whole screen time is devoted to the two main characters), we need to associate with them because they have to carry the film. Emily Blunt is one of those actresses who can deliver the goods and has one of those faces where you recognise her from a lot of films but can’t actually name many of them. It doesn’t hurt that she’s attractive as hell either but she puts in a good shift.

Ashton Holmes is the young man who is driving with her and puts in a great performance too. You know there’s something slightly offbeat about him to start with and his occasional revealing that he knows a little too much about her. Does he have ulterior motives for a taking a detour like being an obsessive stalker or he just an oddball who wants a friend? To be fair though, if Emily Blunt wanted a ride halfway across America and I was driving, I’d take a detour or two to make the trip a little longer.

The two play off each other excellently, with varying degrees of mistrust at first and then affection later on. It’s this part of the film that is the most entertaining – I can’t say gripping because it was hardly edge-of-the-seat stuff but at least it keeps interested. Given the film is light on pretty much everything else, the actors need to carry the film themselves and they do a great job of it. Surprisingly, neither character is given a name in the film. It’s the first half of the film that suggests we’re going to get a psycho-thriller where the driver will make a move at some point and attempt to harm or abuse the girl but he doesn’t. Instead, the car crashes, becomes stranded and then we shift over to the ghosts and haunted road portion of the film which doesn’t work as well.

Snow is a grossly under-used tool for creating atmosphere. There’s just something inherently creepy about it especially when scenes are filmed at night. There’s a weird mix of natural light, shadows and shapes that you just can’t create in a studio or with special effects. This bleak setting is perfect for having ghosts lurk around. And not only does snow create a great atmosphere but it adds a secondary threat because the temperatures have plummeted and if the ghosts don’t get the characters, the cold will.

Unfortunately apart from the odd blow of the wind across the snowy road, there are not a lot of scares to be found. The set up takes its time and you hope it’ll be worth it in the end but it isn’t. Keeping the bulk of the film confined to the car means that the film gets quite repetitive. I mean there’s only so much you can do with two people in a car and the film uses all of its lives up early in this respect. Also keeping the action confined to the car for a lot of the film means that you can see scares coming a mile away – literally – as you watch ghosts and other shapes walking around in the snow. The script twists all over the place at this point too, leading up to a highly unsatisfactory ending that proves the writers were just not interested – they write a lousy ending and can’t even be bothered to name their characters. Tsh!

 

Wind Chill has arguably been made about thirty years too late. You can’t fault anyone in here for trying but it just seems a little out of place sitting alongside the torture porn era. I’m all for more of this type of film because it’s a nice change of pace, albeit too slow a pace. The writers just make sure that the temperature is turned up a bit next time to avoid the film freezing in its tracks.

 

 ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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