Friday, November 6, 2009
“The melting Arctic will reveal a frightening truth.”
In the ecological horror film The Thaw, director Mark A. Lewis presents us with a prehistoric parasitic terror that could prove to be the end of all there is. (Or, at the very least, put a very serious dent in civilization as we know it.)
The apocalypse cinema conceit is established right off the bat with the news montage-as-opening credits sequence gambit done in such entries as Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead redux, Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later, and Logan McMillan’s Last of the Living.
The gambit worked in those films, as it does here.
Of course, the reality is, as early as its opening credits sequence, The Thaw is already recalling earlier horror films, and it continues to do so, as the reels unwind…
Set on Banks Island, in the Canadian Arctic, the film brings to mind John Carpenter’s The Thing, the first season X-Files episode, “Ice” (which was, itself, a sort-of, kind-of Thing retread), Carter Smith’s adaptation of The Ruins, and the brilliant eco-horror entry, Larry Fessenden’s The Last Winter.
Which is, frankly, rather august company, if not for the fact that The Thaw suffers in comparison.
Having said that though, I must stress that The Thaw is still worth your time. I mean, when you’ve got X-Files alumnus William B. Davis in the aforementioned opening credits, talking about global warming and Armageddon and how it’s all our damned fault, well, that’s something that you need to pay attention to.
I have to say though, that aside from the semi-familiarity of the material, the cast isn’t exactly across-the-board good either.
There’s Val Kilmer in there (as ex-eco-activist David Kruipen) and Smallville’s Aaron Ashmore (whose twin Shawn happens to have been in The Ruins) and Everything’s Gone Green’s Steph Song, who’s saddled with a rather thankless role here.
There’s also Martha MacIsaac (as Kruipen’s mightily pissed-off daughter, Evelyn) and Kyle Schmid (from TV’s Blood Ties).
I shall refrain from pointing out which of the above are the weak links in the film’s cast… (Though I will say that MacIsaac did a great job in Dennis Iliadis’ remake of The Last House on the Left.)
Still, with all its flaws, The Thaw does have a bunch of cringe- and shudder-inducing moments, and, like The Last Winter, can serve as an effective cautionary tale of how we, as a race inclined to apathy, and perpetually unsatisfied with our lot, may very well end up destroying ourselves.
If you’ve been avoiding Davis Guggenheim’s An Inconvenient Truth thus far because “documentary” is still a dirty word to you, then perhaps The Thaw is the answer.
I mean, if a teeny Ice Age parasite can help wake up the masses, I’m sure Al Gore wouldn’t mind…
Parting shot: Reviews of The Last Winter, The Ruins, The Last House on the Left, and Everything’s Gone Green can be found in the Archive.
(The Thaw DVD cover art and images courtesy of shocktillyoudrop.com.)