The Thaw (2009)
Directed by Mark A. Lewis
[this is a review I wrote for UGO.com's Movie Blog]
“They’re bugs and they eat people, it’s that simple.”
It’s a simple premise for a simple movie. However, this movie wants you to think it’s more than that. If you haven’t heard of an ecological horror movie, let me introduce you to The Thaw. The overarching theme is we should all be ashamed of ourselves. Little did we know our gas guzzling SUV’s, aerosol cans and non recycling lifestyle would lead to the rise of a creepy crawlies epidemic on a global scale. You didn’t see that coming, right? It’s a horrible inconvenient truth and definitely a horror film Al Gore would love!
There have been a number of creepy crawly movies with an environmental global warming theme of late. OK, maybe just one. The Last Winter, directed by Larry Fessenden is the one film that The Thaw will draw comparisons too. Also think Splinter or The Ruins but in the Arctic. The threat of little parasites infecting you is almost a universal fear, something you’d see on TLC or Discovery. The fact that these creatures exist, makes this movie work effectively.
The Thaw introduces us to Dr. David Kruipen (Val Kilmer) and his team as they discover a wooly mammoth thawing in the Canadian Arctic. Unknown to them, they also discover a prehistoric parasite that has been hibernating in the animal’s as well. Quickly, the team gets infected and the opening shot of a bug making its new home in the head of a woman clearly will makes you feel jittery.
Later, Bart a helicopter pilot flies a group of students led by Kruipen’s daughter, Evelyn to the base camp. The students are an eclectic group of characters that are not typically the stereotypical, oversexed, dumb teenagers we usually see. Evelyn is a very effective final girl; Atom plays out as a level headed counter to Evelyn while Federico portrays the everyman, the guy who will do anything to survive. Finally, Ling is the hottie who has early demise written on her forehead. I found something interesting in these characters; they played out as real to me, not hipsters doing hipster things in a horror movie.
But the real star of the film is of course, the bugs. Created with a very decent amount of CGI, their scenes bring some panic into the fold. A tense moment in the lab will get you itching. The bugs also enable us to witness a very effective arm cutting scene with a cleaver. But the most chilling scenes are just seeing the infected with bite marks all over their bodies and devouring a carcass. It’s downright gross, but somehow successful in getting the point across.
However, the movie does have some flaws. With the creatures swarming all over the camp, our supposedly smart students show disregard to the fact that they could get infected by staying in areas they should be avoiding. Also, the bugs though highly contagious seemed very ineffective in the suspense scenes later on in Acts II and III. Other movies took the parasitic nature and evolved it. Here, the bugs seem to be slightly boring and could have been more menacing and scary.
The ending brings home the global warming theme back home though to tell you the truth I’m one of those people who have an indifferent approach to the whole greenhouse effect thing so I wasn’t converted. Overall, The Thaw is an effective sci-fi horror film that draws our fear of parasites run amok. Though the parallel to global warming bringing about a bugpocalypse is a little farfetched, when you’re putting on the hand sanitizer it’s that fear that The Thaw latches on to. So recycle, ok?
You'll like it if....
- You love creepy crawly horror movies
- You believe global warming is a threat to humanity
- You’re a big fan of sci-fi horror flicks
You won't like it if....
- You hate any sight of bugs and bug infestations
- You hate environmental themed movies
- The sight of parasitic bugs and Val Kilmer scare you