Winter is Coming! or Not Week

My apologies to the Starks of Winterfell but Spring is in the air here – also my apologies if Spring has been delayed for your area.

Now that we’ve turned the clocks forward and I can sleep a smidge later in the morning, I thought I’d offer my opinion on a few winter-themed movies on Netflix.

Hypothermia (2010) – Not Rated

“Two bickering families vacationing at a frozen lake miles from civilization must put aside their differences to fight a much greater enemy. Something has awoken under the ice, and its prey is human.”

The concept of Hypothermia is a breath of fresh air, even if it is just a little twist on the old group goes into the forest and gets picked off one by one film. Ice fishing is certainly something we’ve not seen in the horror genre. Michael Rooker is always welcome and the rest of the cast performs ably.

Unfortunately, the film is poorly plotted and scripted by writer/director James Felix McKenney. Everything is strictly by-the-numbers apart from the initial idea of having a monster under the ice. The film could still have been fun if it had been done tongue-in-cheek or if the monster was scary. Sadly neither of these is the case and it is hard to keep from laughing when you first see the monster.

The monster really looks like someone wearing a Halloween costume. The problem with doing a fishman costume is that Universal did it wonderfully over half a century ago with The Creature from the Black Lagoon. If you can’t beat that then perhaps you should have gone in a different direction.

Deadfall (2012) – Rated R

“On the run after a casino heist, siblings Addison and Liza split up. When Liza gets a ride from a prison parolee heading to his parents’ home for Thanksgiving, unexpected events lead the two families toward a collision in this suspenseful thriller.”

“What’s your name?” – “What do you want it to be?”

I had wanted to watch Deadfall in the theater last year but I was too busy with the Oscar films to catch it. It has made an astonishingly fast transition to instant Netflix which is never a good sign.

The main plot is pretty ridiculous. People do get stranded in snow storms all the time and the initial accident is riveting. The winter setting throughout the film is realistic and a couple of scenes take place during a really nice snowfall. Unfortunately not only are the two main characters not dressed for heavy snow, they don’t even appear to be dressed for a light frost. The first thing they decide to do is split up.

Much of the cast looks far too pretty for their roles. Eric Bana is not really able to sell hardened criminal here, much less a psychotic one. Olivia Wilde (House) is very attractive with striking eyes but comes across more as a model than a damaged woman. Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy), also trying to move from the small screen, plays a violent yet vulnerable parolee and is just as unconvincing. Kate Mara is the good-looking young police officer.

Deadfall has a subplot of sex discrimination in law enforcement that is hilariously overwrought. Oh my gosh – Hanna’s (Kate Mara) father is the sheriff and won’t let her go out on patrol with the other officers (apparently she is the only woman on the force). Those other officers won’t let her play any of their reindeer games and actively interfere with her police work. They won’t even let her radio in a lead and toss her equipment into a snowbank. Of course without the idiotic subplot, Addison (Eric Bana) would have been caught long before the climax.

Most of the characters are underwritten and you can simply write off anyone Addison meets until he gets to the place that is obviously going to be the climax of the film. Better still write off Deadfall and go read a book.

So let it be written, so let it be done.