Tag: hypothermia


Hypothermia (2010)
★ / ★★★★

Clocking in at only about an hour and ten minutes, “Hypothermia,” written and directed by James Felix McKenney, may have a short running time but it does not mean that it is efficient or fast-paced. On the contrary, it is a drag to sit through because the victims and the monster are there but the screenplay does not know what to do with them in order to create either an interesting story or one that offers genuine suspense, thrills, and horror.

The dialogue comes across so robotic, it is a challenge to discern whether the actors practiced the scenes so many times or there was no rehearsal at all. This is most noticeable when a character becomes gravely injured or dies. The camera employs certain angles that denote panic and alarm, but when the silence is broken, the words that come out are dead dull, unintelligent, and unbelievable. Thus, we are taken out of the moment almost immediately and we realize that the bloodletting is all for naught.

It has limited ideas in terms of what to do with the setting. Ice fishing goes horribly awry when a family (Michael Rooker, Blanche Baker, Benjamin Forster), including the son’s girlfriend (Amy Chang), discovers a creature underneath the surface. It might explain why, although they have been fishing for hours, they have not caught a single fish.

Part of the problem is that the distance between the lake, a dangerous area, and the cabin, a safe spot, is not that far. Although the characters are being terrorized by the prehistoric creature, one thought lingers in the back of our minds: Why not just make a run for it? Instead, we are subjected to sit through phrases like, “It has arms and legs!” or “It’s too dark outside!” Why not actually show us that is not a good idea to run back to the cabin? It sure beats passively watching the potential victims staying in one spot and getting picked off individually.

The frozen lake and the surrounding areas are neither beautiful nor menacing. Instead, just about everything looks drab. When the camera scans the vicinity, there is no excitement, a sense or wonder, or tense anticipation. Later in the picture, there is a line or two about the family visiting the lakeside once or twice a year. The problem is, we never get to see or experience for ourselves why they keep coming back. Specifically, why is it such an important place for them?

Some say that it is easy to make a horror movie. When strictly talking about the budget, I might be inclined to agree. But just like in every genre, details do matter. When details are overlooked to such an extent that the material relies only on plot to keep it afloat, the picture—no matter what the genre—is in trouble. Needless to say, “Hypothermia” is not a good movie. It is as though the filmmakers didn’t even try. And just like its screenplay, the monster costume is equally egregious.


Sanctum (2011)
★ / ★★★★

Frank (Richard Roxburgh), a professional explorer, and his crew (Dan Wylie, Christopher Baker, Nicole Downs, Allison Cratchley, Creamer Cain) were in the uncharted Esa’ala Cave to map out the underground river that ran through it. But their exploration turned grim when it began to rain. The cave was located underground so water from the rainforest began to pool inside. With exits blocked by heavy rocks and powerful torrents, Frank, his crew, his son named Josh (Rhys Wakefield), the project financier (Ioan Gruffudd), and his girlfriend (Alice Parkinson) decided that their only hope was to find the exit the led up to the ocean. Inspired by a true story, “Sanctum” might have been better off as a documentary. Instead, it featured melodrama between father and son. Josh felt distant toward his father because Frank was fully invested in his work and didn’t spend enough time at home. When they shared conversations, the topic consisted of cave diving, mountain climbing, and other extreme physical activities. I suppose Josh wanted his father to ask him about his hobbies or if he ever had a girlfriend (or boyfriend). I found it difficult to connect to their relationship when everyone was yelling all the time. Naturally, as the picture progressed, the two found common ground. As for the survival aspect of the film, I liked that the environment looked threatening. Sharp rocks were abound, the flowing water looked like it could easily knock me over, and the claustrophic space when the characters went underwater looked menacing. However, did the characters have to make one bad decision after another? They were supposed to have had experience in extreme situations one way or another, but their mistakes were elementary. Take the financier’s girlfriend for example. Prior to a crucial dive, she was adamant in not wearing a dead woman’s wet suit. She claimed she would rather, in her own words, “be cold and alive than warm and dead.” Her logic did not make sense to me. Someone should have knocked some sense into her and explained that a wet suit could help keep her alive. I just had to laugh at her in the next scene when she got hypothermia. I thought she deserved it for being so stubborn. The picture needed more quiet moments. The score was distracting especially during the underwater sequences. If most of those scenes were silent and all we could here were the bubbles, there would have been genuine, naturalistic tension because we all know how it’s like to hold our breath underwater and the panic that creeps in when our lungs crave oxygen. The filmmakers should have taken advantage of that instead of allowing the music to tell us what to feel. Directed by Alister Grierson, “Sanctum” failed to show us what needed to be experienced. This was best reflected in the scene when Frank and his crew witnessed something that was supposedly astonishing. The camera focused on their expressions the entire time and never allowed us to see the greatness for ourselves.