Recently, I received four horror titles--"Seventh Moon," "Offspring," "The Thaw," and "The Children"--from Lionsgate as part of their new "Ghost House Underground" series. The series is perfectly marketed by an imprint on the cover of the movie: "From the makers of the Evil Dead Trilogy." Still, I hadn't heard about any of these movies, so I needed one title for the review that would stand out. After looking at the stories and actors, only one movie seem interesting to me with the presence of Val Kilmer in "The Thaw." I decided to check it out.
Val Kilmer stars as a famous environmental advocate, Dr. David Kruipen, who discovers the real horror of global warming when he finds the carcass of a woolly mammoth in the polar ice that also contains a prehistoric parasite. Soon, a team of four students lands on a remote Arctic station to find Dr. Kruipen. Through a series of events, students find themselves trapped in this station trying to escape the prehistoric parasite. One by one, the parasite finds a host in this group. Running out of time, the students must find a way to escape this situation.
I didn't know how to react to the movie after the credits rolled. First, I thought I was watching an extended "X-File" episode. Then I realized this movie basically replicates John Carpenter's "The Thing." The movie is predictable and totally by the numbers. More so, this concept has been rehashed countless times and probably done better on a few other occasions.
Being a low-budget movie, I thought Val Kilmer would get more screen time. Instead, his screen presence is fairly brief, his only appearance is in the beginning and end of the movie. For the remaining eighty minutes, the movie banks on the more-amateurish skills of the other actors. As a result, the acting is bit shaky and overly melodramatic at times. I understand that the producers were cutting corners by hiring new actors, but it doesn't help the audience. Additionally, although being tagged as a horror movie, "The Thaw" lacks frightening sequences and chills. Nothing in the movie will make you jump or scream.
Even though "The Thaw" is a low-budget film, its video quality pleasantly surprised me. The colors are vibrant, which is evident in outdoor scenes. However, most of the movie takes place indoors. The blacks are solid, though at times there is a tinge of gray. The skin tones are true, but details are never impressive, and they are a bit inconsistent. I did not notice any signs of unwanted blemishes or DNR. Lionsgate present the movie in a 2.35:1 widescreen format encoded in a 1080p format averaging a healthy bit rate of 25 Mbps.
Lionsgate use a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track for the sound. Most of the movie is front-channel driven. Even so, in a few outdoor scenes, we hear atmospheric noises from the rear channels. The helicopter scenes produce a full 360 affect. However, at times I felt that the dialogue was a bit flat and gunshots lacked bass. This is not demo-worthy audio but works well enough with the overall mood and low budget of the movie.
"Behind the Scenes" is a regular making-of featurette where the crew discuss their motivations behind making the movie. The actors talk about their characters and the story.
The other features included are "Ghost House Micro Video" featuring Winds of Plague and a trailer gallery in 1080p high def. The movie comes with subtitles in English and Spanish.
Clearly inspired by Carpenter's "The Thing," this newer movie shows promise in the beginning with its message of global warming. Unfortunately, the mediocre script never articulates this message effectively. A below-average cast, a thin story line, and a tired concept result in a movie that meanders to its end. A forty-five-minute "X-Files" episode would be better any day than this fright-less horror endeavor.