Monster Movie, “Hypothermia,” left me COLD!

affiche-hypothermia-2010-1

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.

Michael Rooker

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.

Released in 2012 after falling into a hole

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.

Don Wood as the trigger-happy Steve Cote

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.

Stay under water!

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…

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SPOILER ALERT – DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU DON’T WANT ME TO GIVE AWAY THE ENDING…
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Even worse than the creature was Pelletier’s wife, Helen (Blanche Baker), who gets credit for staying true to her beliefs no matter HOW implausible they are under the circumstances. She doesn’t want to see the monster get killed, even after it butcher’s her beloved son right in front of her. In contrast, her husband is consumed with vengeance (as any normal parent would be), and turns away from his peace-loving mantra in favor of killing it. The wife (who spent the whole movie staring lovingly and doting on him) gets so irked by his new perspective that she literally turns her back with a “well, he deserves it” attitude when the monster kills him. And folks, she never looks back.
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If that doesn’t have you scratching your head, wait until the beast finally corners her. She literally apologizes to it for disturbing his domicile and it, apparently fluent in modern English, goes back from whence it came. If only the Japanese had written Godzilla a two-story apology card, Tokyo could have been spared billions of dollars in devastation.
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I appreciate what the filmmaker was trying to do here. Lots of people like to boast that they’ve “gone green” and care about Mother Earth, but how many of us are really walking the walk. Sure you throw your cans in the recycle bin, but do you let the water run while you’re brushing your teeth and opt for paper plates when it’s more convenient? This movie definitely shows a left-wing character who REALLY stick to her guns. Unfortunately, it comes off as so silly it could easily be used as a propaganda film at The Republican National Convention.
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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…

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Dave Fuentes~

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2 thoughts on “Monster Movie, “Hypothermia,” left me COLD!

  1. Dave, I’d saved your review to read until after I’d watched the movie. Now that I have, I agree with most of what you say. The biggest failing is definitely the appearance of the creature and… it’s pretty much inexcusable really. It just looks THAT bad.

    On Blanche Baker’s character though, rather than from the environmental angle, I really took her actions to be that of a practical mother who’s not going to let worrying about getting revenge on a wild animal get in the way of getting her son’s fiance to safety. She see’s that the complete opposite is true of Michael Rooker’s character and she has no other option but to leave him behind. I found it kind of refreshing actually (if not completely believable) how cold she was about it. To me, when she lost her son and found out that he’d been engaged to that girl, she knew that no matter what happened her son was gone but she COULD save the woman he loved.

    Also, the way I took her being able to converse with the creature at the climax was that it was a bit of a “twist” ending in that she’d ingested the creature’s venom (from her son’s cheek wound) which had created a sort of psychic bond between she and the creature. Previous to that scene, whenever a character would get bitten, we’d start to see distorted images of the creature seeing through the bitten character’s eyes and experiencing what they were seeing. That’s true also when the mom is pleading with him at the end and the focus is then on the scene of her sucking out the venom to bring it home.

    Overall, a very disappointing film but there were a few things in there I DID like. I know you explain why you don’t review many independent, smaller movies but I, for one, would really enjoy you doing it more often! Keep up the good work!

    • Thanks for the comment, Luke! You definitely raised some excellent points and I hadn’t even thought of the “psychic connection” thing in regards to the mom. As for the death of her husband, I understood why she was irked but, even couples who don’t get along would “react” if their spouse was being eviscerated whether they had it coming or not. In this film they were so lovey-dovey in the beginning and then it was like “Oh the big idiot is getting what he deserves!” Her walking away with her son’s fiance’ appeared more like “C’mon, honey, let’s get away from this jackass” as opposed to “I must get you to safety! We’re family now!” That was the impression I got from the performance whether that was the intention….who knows?

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