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It's a shame more horror fans either aren't or can't see this movie,
because it may very well signify a shift in the contemporary horror
film (as of Spring 2007, when it was released).
The first "Saw" movie is usually seen as heralding a new direction and a new popularity in horror when it was first released and, despite the fact that the movie is principally a really twisty whodunit, it spawned dozens upon dozens of movies based on its essential formula: people (usually teenagers, often teen actors on their summer hiatus from their WB TV shows) in peril threatened with ghastly violence shown explicitly. The studios put any number of old movies into the remake machine in order to retrofit them with the new formula--and an R rating--to the point where these movies had the repetitive predictability of a Catholic mass.
Besides being bored with this genre, the massacres at Virginia Tech, I think, forced people to look to a new incarnation of horror--although, to be honest, I think current events have only a momentary impact on the movies. And that's where "Wind Chill" comes in.
"Wind Chill" is a movie which will disappoint you if you're hoping to see "Hostel"--a type of movie some people have compared to porn in its lack of substance apart from its depictions of explicit physical acts (in this case, violence). It's a thoughtful movie which takes the traditional elements of the most primitive horror movies and re-imagines them for our time. Think of the old James Whale haunted house movie, "The Old Dark House," and compare it to "Wind Chill" and you'll see how our oldest fears are presented anew--as if to say those old fears are never eliminated. This is the archetypal basis of the entire genre.
The movie isn't perfect--it's too talky, the exposition is piled on in the last third, the scares are rarely effective, and the resolution isn't quite plausible. But I thought it was fun and weird and full of unexpected depth.
I'm not certain in which direction "Wind Chill" is pointing the horror movie--maybe in the direction of the late 60s/early 70s "just slightly off" horror like "Rosemary's Baby" or the old "Night Gallery" TV series--rather than in the direction of grind house horror. But it's a worthwhile experiment.
While this is not the best horror film ever to have been made, it
stands out as one that actually has taken the time to develop the
characters and still manage to hold your attention. Aside from a
back-story that is thrown in at the last minute which never really
explains why this is happening to the characters, the film stars and
director have helped create some very effective scar sequences which
don't always need to be played upon with exhausting music and gore.
The story begins with a girl (Emily Blunt, "The Devil Wears Prada") who needs a ride home for the holidays from college because she has just broken up with her boyfriend. Upon checking the student "ride board" she sees that there is someone offering a ride home in her direction and decides to take it. The boy (Ashton Holmes, "A History of Violence") is our driver, who may have ulterior motives of his own.
Needless to say things begin to fall apart when the boy decides to get off the main highway at the behest of the girl, swerves the car to avoid another one that is oncoming, and crashes in the middle of nowhere. In the snow. In the freezing cold. Obviously with no cell phones in service. Soon the two realize that they have much more to worry about than just freezing to death in the night.
Up until this point things have been fairly clichéd and predictable as with most horror films, but this is exactly what catches you off guard for the second half of the film, the dynamics of which I will not spoil for you. The director Jacobs ("Criminal") is fully aware that the best of horror films are those that have given you time to get to know and feel for the characters before something bad happens to them, even if it is only in the last half. Hitchcock knew this quite well and although "Wind Chill" may be a far cry from "Psycho" or "Frenzy", its effectiveness in making you believe in these characters and feel for them is a truly terrifying experience.
It's a few days before the Christmas holidays when two (unnamed)
students share a ride home.After taking a "short-cut" they have a
serious accident and find themselves stranded in nowheresville', in the
middle of a cold snap and miles from the nearest town, then the
'problems' really begin....
I have to admit I'd heard nothing about this film, in fact I'd never even heard of the title, but it proved to be a bit of a revelation.The two leads Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada) and Ashton Holmes (A History Of Violence) are both very good actors and both put in good performances.The film is well paced, not letting you know too much too soon, it's a very eerie looking movie, the the darkness of the night brilliantly contrasting with the glistening snow, reminiscent of the classic "The Shining".
In an age of shock horror which has become rife in Hollywood over the past decade it nice to see a good old fashioned horror film in the fashion of say John Carpenters "The Fog" or even Peter Jackson's "The Frighteners" which it had elements that were very similar too.
A fine intelligent psychological horror film.
Wind Chill (2007) 4 of 5 Dir: Gregory Jacobs Stars: Emily Blunt, Ashton
Holmes, Martin Donovan
A girl (Blunt) is in need of transportation home for the holidays. She hooks up with a guy to share expenses for the trip home to Delaware. But a scenic detour gets them in proverbial hot water when out of the snowy darkness a vehicle runs them off the road. Now stranded in the cold with the wind chill quickly approaching 30 below zero they thought find out that the cold is the least of their worries as strange figures appear around them and a ghostly patrolman appears to harass them. This snowy stretch of road may well be a highway of a different kind.
'Wind Chill' is a refreshing change from all the entire Saw'-like entertainment lurking about as of late. It takes its time getting where it wants to be while establishing characterization and eventually building up a pretty decent atmosphere from about the mid-point. I liked the sort of red herring that the filmmakers threw in regard to the relationship between the boy and the girl. The twist is an interesting one, not fully realized but still done very well. The acting is done very well and since Blunt and Holmes nearly have the screen to themselves they play off each other excellently.
I recommend 'Wind Chill' for those who may like a change of pace. Nicely acted with a solid script and interesting premise.
Before you read my ramblings, let me cut to the chase and just say that you need to see this movie if you're into HORROR (not gore). I was sitting in my hotel room wondering what movie I should fork over $13.99 for to kill some time. I'm a fan of horror movies and have been disappointed by pretty much everything since Sixth Sense. So-called horror movies these days are really slasher films that merely come up with more inventive ways of killing and maiming. More funny and / or predictably stupid after awhile than scary. So the quality of Wind Chill was a real surprise. The characters really get you into the movie from the get-go--even when the movie isn't scary. There's plenty of subtle hints that had me going every which way trying to predict the end of the movie. Was he a whack-job intent on killing her? Did he already know about this place and went there on purpose? Was he in cahoots with the people at the gas station? I was pleasantly way-off in all of my predictions. Also, there were little things in the movie that built my anxiety without slapping me in the face with its obviousness, like, hey, you guys left a bag! I've forgotten stuff so many times that seeing it happen to someone else and not being able to do anything about it had me talking to the TV (which I don't normally do) telling them they had left a bag behind. Emily Blunt plays a great attitudinally-impaired hottie with brains and Ashton Holmes skillfully plays a college guy that sometimes appears semi-normal and at other times might just be on the verge of craziness. Both actors did a great job at pulling me into the movie, and I'm surprised that I didn't hear more about this movie when it was in theaters. Believe it or not, I think it was worth $13.99 to finally see another really good horror movie. Kudos to everyone that put this really good film together.
For Christmas break, a bitchy college girl (Emily Blunt) is in
desperate need of a ride home to Delaware. When a classmate (Ashton
Holmes) overhears this, he puts up an ad on the school's billboard
since he has a crush on her. She winds up taking the ride, but it soon
becomes obvious that he's a tad bit obsessed with her. Naturally, this
leads to a tense atmosphere for the long drive home, so he takes a
shortcut. While heading down this lonely road, they're involved in an
accident which leaves them stranded in the snow. With no one around to
help and the cold reaching below zero temperatures, their situation
isn't exactly enviable. It becomes even less so when they realize that
this isolated stretch of road is haunted by unsettling apparitions, one
of which is quite dangerous.
I've been extremely fond of Emily Blunt ever since I first saw her in 2004's "My Summer of Love". Aside from being a stellar talent, she's a stunning girl and infinitely charming. The film is worth seeing just for her, but her co-star, Ashton Holmes, is much better here than he was in "A History of Violence". I found him so annoying in that film, but here, he was actually likable. What a shock!
The film is definitely creepy at times. Thankfully, no weak jump scares either. It's all built up subtly through mood, atmosphere and shadows. There's one especially effective scene about halfway through. You'll know it when you see it, but I'll just say it reminded me of a similarly unnerving scene from Wes Craven's underrated "The Serpent and the Rainbow".
I was thrilled to see Clint Mansell's name in the opening credits, as I knew right away that the film would have a particularly strong score. It did wonders for the film's tone, and especially shone through during the ending. Speaking of which, the ending is somewhat on the weak side. It seemed too simple, and the connection between these two characters wasn't strong enough to support it. Actually, they're pretty much at odds with each other for the majority of the picture, so there's hardly a connection at all. It speaks volumes about the power of Mansell's score, as it manages to give the ending a feeling of emotional weight where there otherwise would be none.
In spite of the film's closing moments, this deserved a wider release. The scenes on the deserted road are effective and moody, while Blunt has talent to burn. It isn't perfect, but it's a good little film with more to offer than some of the filth that hits 3000+ screens nationwide. Think of it as a sort of ghost story by way of urban legend, which is supported by the characters just being referred to as "Boy" and "Girl" in the closing credits.
Emily Blunt and Ashton Holmes play two nameless college students who
share a ride home for the holidays. On the way from Pennsylvania to
Delaware, their car becomes stranded in a snow bank far away from
civilization. Soon they are being haunted by the ghosts of all the
numerous people who died earlier in the very spot that seems intent on
claiming two fresh victims.
"Wind Chill" is a modest little horror outing whose admirable restraint and sense of atmosphere don't quite compensate for its overall lack of energy and incoherent storyline. It takes quite awhile for the plot to kick itself into gear, and even when it does, the movie ends not with a bang but with a whimper.
"Wind Chill" is certainly preferable to an out-and-out gore-fest like "Saw" or "Hostel," but a few more runs through the typewriter (or word processor, as the case may be) might have gone a long way towards making it a more satisfying and scary film. Like the car stuck in the snowdrift, the audience at "Wind Chill" ultimately finds itself stranded in the middle of nowhere.
2007's "Wind Chill" is a mystery/horror film about a college gal (Emily
Blunt) sharing a 6-hour ride with a male student (Ashton Holmes) home
to Delaware from Pennsylvania. The guy is supposed to be a stranger but
it turns out he knows more about her than anticipated. The story takes
a tragic ghostly turn when they get stranded on Route 606 in the bitter
I should point out right away that "Wind Chill" is inexplicably rated 'R'; there's really nothing in the film that should warrant such a rating -- there's no sex, very little cussing (realistic, not overkill) and hardly any gore. If you want that see "Cabin Fever" or "Friday the 13th." "Wind Chill" shoots for something more profound, haunting and classy, like "The Mothman Prophecies".
The film is what I would call an "isolated environment" movie wherein the main characters are stuck in a confined situation for the better part of the picture, like in "Prey" where a woman and her two stepkids are stuck in a jeep fending off lions or "The Mist" where the characters are barricaded in a supermarket from the onslaught of otherworldly creatures. This scenario tended to work against those films as the confined setting became tedious (although "The Mist" redeems itself with one of the most unforgettable, awe-inspiring climaxes in film history) (and I still think "Prey" is worth catching for nature-runs-amok enthusiasts). By contrast, the confined setting somehow works in "Wind Chill." How so? I would chalk it up to great writing, acting and movie-making.
Think about it, there are essentially only two characters in this entire 91-minute film. For it to work it HAS to have stellar casting, writing and acting. It dawned on me while watching that "Wind Chill" is largely a dialogue-driven picture; the banter between the two protagonists pulled me in and sustained my interest, which isn't easy seeing as how "isolated environment" movies tend to try the viewer's patience & interest by their very nature.
Emily Blunt is easy on the eyes (what an understatement) but comes off a bit witchy and therefore unattractive initially, yet this plays into what the film is really about. Isn't this a mystery/horror flick? Yes, but the ghostly trappings are merely a stage for a tale of redemption. Unfortunately redemption always has a hefty price tag, not to mention love must fit into the mix somewhere. So, at its core, "Wind Chill" is a mystery chiller of love and redemption. Who it is that needs redeemed and why I'll leave to you to figure out, as well as who pays the price.
The score is awe-inspiring, in particular the piece at the beginning and end (and during the credits).
Although the story takes place in the East the film was shot in British Columbia. These are great locations, of course, but I'm starting to weary of the fact that 90% of these types of flicks are shot in B.C. Incidentally, the tale obviously occurs in Eastern Pennsylvania in light of a reference to Harrisburg on the radio and the I-476 highway sign (I-476 runs North-to-South from Scranton to Philadelphia).
I have a couple of cavils: When they're stranded on the country road it never looks nearly as cold as it's supposed to be, and is it believable that any college student, let alone a hot babe, would know about the junction box and phone jack on top of a telephone pole?
CONCLUSION: The average person who has a taste for this type of moody, spooky picture will conclude that "Wind Chill" is a classy chiller, what ushers it into the realm of greatness is its underlying profundities, stellar cast, writing, acting, music, locations and just all-around magical movie-making. For all these reasons "Wind Chill" is a pleasure to behold.
GRADE: Borderline B+ or A-
***ENDING SPOILER*** The climax, as told in Chapter 28, strikes a potent emotional chord as the girl stumbles out of the dark woods after a night of literal hell; she comes across the gas station, which links her to the authorities and salvation. Yet this is a much different woman than at the start of the picture; her life will never be the same as she is changed forever, changed for the good. She realizes this and can't hold back the tears. You can see it on her face; she understands the price that was paid for this new life. Emily Blunt pulls the scene off expertly; in fact, everything about the finale is filmmaking of the finest expertise. Magnificent.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Because it isn't dripping with blood and gore but is a more stylish
movie in the school of "The Shining," "Wind Chill" isn't getting much
attention. Which is too bad because it's a pretty surprising and
effective little horror movie with a great performance by up-and-coming
superstar Emily Blunt.
For the record, it's hard to write a review about this without spoilers since the movie keeps shifting directions, which is one of the interesting things about it.
Two nameless college kids--Blunt and Ashton Holmes--meet through their college ride board and share a ride home at Christmas time. She's a bitch and he's got something creepy going on and the thing builds nicely for the first third. But when someone drives their car off the road into a snowbank, the movie shifts directions for the first time--turning from a psychological thriller to a ghost story.
MINOR SPOILER: It turns out the road where they've crashed is haunted owing to a horrible secret that happened fifty years in the past. The secret involves a highway patrolman and a group of priests--I won't ruin it for you, but it has the same unnerving quality the secret in, say, "The Grudge" had. Actually much of the movie reminds me of Asian horror movies like "The Eye" and "The Ring."
Most of movie is spent in the car and the leads talk quite a bit and it's to the actor's credit (and the writers's) that it's pretty gripping and interesting and the relationship that develops is entirely believable. The movie is basically a haunted house movie from that point on--how will they survive the night and those ghosts which mean them harm--and the last third has some real scares and twists.
Finally, I liked Ashton Homes but it was Emily Blunt who ran away with the movie--the smartest, most resilient horror movie heroine since Ripley.
This film was very well done. The scars are marvelous and the acting is terrific. It did have one flaw though. Every good horror film has "THE BIG SECRET", of "THE TWIST". This keeps the story moving and makes it scarier. In this film, the big twist is figured out to early. One can figure the secret out half way through the film. But just because the big secret is known, does not mean that this film isn't worth watching. There are still some scares that are really good and aren't seen coming. Because of this, I highly recommend this film to other horror buffs. It is a traditional scare, where the fear is in the situation and the people; not based in how much blood is in the film.
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