I have to say, this is one of those blogs that I almost hate myself for writing. Generally when I critique a movie I try and keep it focused on the mainstream/bigger budget stuff because, in my view, it’s open game. People have assumed that this means I turn a blind eye to Independent films or that I don’t support them. Nothing could be further from the truth! I have a great deal of respect for Independent films which is why I hate criticizing them. Especially in this case when its a rare modern “monster movie” that features old school FX.
I recently watched the film HYPOTHERMIA which appeared to feature a “win/win” scenario with horror veteran, Michael Rooker, and a monster. While it’s never a good sign when a completed film isn’t made available to the public until two years later, I remained cautiously optimistic. I wasn’t even swayed by some bad reviews I saw on-line because, admittingly, I’m a “monster” guy and automatically assume that mainstream critics and I won’t see things the same way. Not true in this case…
The film deals with the Eco-friendly, liberal Pelletier family (headed by Michael Rooker in what has to be the kindliest role I’ve ever seen him in) spending a weekend at their snowy cottage and enjoying some ice-fishing. For those unfamiliar with the sport, that means you cut a hole in the ice and sit outside patiently in the cold, hoping your pole will snag something. Okay, this is definitely not my idea of a vacation, but to each his own. This year is a particularly bad crop for the eager family as they manage to catch ZERO fish. Making matters worse, their idyllic day is rudely interrupted by another would-be fisherman who enters their area like a proverbial bull in a China shop.
Unlike the Pelletiers, Steve Cote & son are anything but “friends of the Earth.” They bring along their own camper with all the electronic comforts of home and enough hardware to catch Moby Dick. Despite the Pelletier family’s trepidation, they do there best to put up with the Cotes who prove that you can’t escape annoying neighbors no matter how remote the location. They begrudgingly join them for some beer and steaks (which works out perfectly since they don’t have any fresh fish to eat) while Mr. Cote proudly shows off his noisy arsenal.
This gains the attention of a previously undiscovered creature living below the ice (actually, he makes enough noise to attract one living in Hawaii), supposedly freed from Global warming’s effect on rapidly melting glaciers. The two-legged amphibious beast is attracted to surface vibrations (think TREMORS on ice) and, having apparently eaten all the fish, has decided to expand his menu to surface dwellers. The first to experience the monster’s wrath is Mr. Cole’s son, Steve Jr. who gets dragged under water & sliced up before being fished out (the character’s only catch of the day) to safety. This is not to say they did the boy any favors as the monster’s saliva causes infection and hallucinations.
This leads us to the first completely ridiculous scene in the movie; the kid looks like he’s been mauled by a tiger and is clearly getting deathly ill yet his father, determined to add a prehistoric monster to his trophy room, refuses to take him to a hospital. I’m serious, the kid’s arm could of fallen off and the dad would have been like, “Oh suck it up you big baby! You’ll be fine after a good night’s rest!”
If this scenario doesn’t have you frustrated than getting a good looks at the monster surely will. This is one film that would have been wise to follow the “less is more” rule when showing their creature. It literally reminded me of a homemade fan costume of Japanese giant monster Gamera’s old adversary, Gyaos, having just come in 5th place at the G-Fest (Godzilla Festival) costume contest. How bad is it? One look had my kids rolling on the ground laughing. The only semi-effective scene with the monster was when he’s swimming beneath the characters and, God forgive me, I’m pretty sure that was a CGI effect.
The acting in this movie is good (we still love you, Michael Rooker) and the story’s premise wasn’t bad at all. In the end, the film becomes the cheesy monster’s biggest victim along with one REALLY bad ending…
Despite this film, I shall continue to hang on to the hope that a decent monster movie will, once again, grace the Silver Screen. I may be as crazy as Helen Pelletier, but it’s a belief I will hang on to until the bitter end…