Thursday, December 8, 2016

DEAD OF WINTER; HYPOTHERMIA

Welcome back, fiends! I don't know how the weather is where you are, but up here in New York we've already had a major snowstorm. After thirteen years in North Carolina, I'm so happy to be back in the north. One thing I've missed greatly since leaving Boston is the snow. Real snow. Being up here has also given my creativity a huge boost as well. Seriously, when the temperatures started to drop around Halloween, my imagination was like a prowling beast.

So, here we go with the next installment of our new series DEAD OF WINTER, where we explore through new reviews the best winter themed horror films.

In 2010, Glass Eye Pix released James Felix McKenney's HYPOTHERMIA, a CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON inspired horror film that takes place during a family ice fishing trip. The desolate, frozen setting and strong performances from Michael Rooker and Blanch Baker help carry the film. Rooker fans may be surprised to see the usual hard ass playing a nice family man for a change.

The Pelletier family (Rooker, Baker, Benjamin Forster, and Amy Chang) expected to spend a quiet weekend on the ice fishing, but their peace is spoiled when another father and son (Don Wood and Greg Finley), from the city,  arrive making a lot of noise and generally acting like douche bags. To make matters worse there's something under the ice; a toothy, eel-like humanoid starts to hunt the two families and it becomes a fight for survival.

The frozen setting plays a large part in the overwhelming sense of dread and hopelessness in HYPOTHERMIA. The creature is also a nice throw-back to the days of an actor in a rubber suit as
are the practical gore effects that look really good. McKenney takes the less-is-more approach giving us mostly short glances of the creature, which is kind of too bad. Some critics have been unkind to the monster suit/design, but had there been more full shots and action they may have had a different opinion.

The pacing is deliberately slow with an over-all downbeat feel, which is not too different than another Glass Eye Pix film, directed by Larry Fessenden, called WENDIGO. (I like these two films as a double feature.) Though it's a slow burn, HYPOTHERMIA is only an hour and thirteen minutes long, so the slower pacer shouldn't be a turn off for those looking for something a little punchier.

Really, the only thing I would complain about, besides there not being enough creature action, is that I wish the ending was a bit less ambiguous. (SPOILER ALERT) In the end Baker and Chang's characters are the only survivors and are chased off the ice by the creature. They collapse on the shore, clearly done for, but Baker starts trying to talk to the creature and then it leaves them. While some view this as a what-the-fuck moment, I don't think it was her speech that got them spared. I figure the creature is somewhat empathic and doesn't view them as a threat to it's hunting ground any longer. That's why they don't get killed. I don't know what the real intention of McKenney's was, but it's really a minor gripe for a film that is overall a very good horror flick.
McKenney also makes some kick ass art toys called SEA BORGS, check them out HERE.

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