Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Thaw (2009)

Fear 3/5
Gore 4/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 3/5

At the hillside top of a remote arctic location a researcher (startlingly played in a 'holy shit, he's still alive?' fashion by Val Kilmer) and his crew, tranquilize a polar bear in an attempt to learn more about the affects of changing global climates and animal dietary habits. After scaling down the side of an embankment towards the snoozing bear, they find he was munching on a partially frozen carcass of a woolly mammoth. Along with his team, they attempt to exhume the rest of the body and its not long before they wish they hadn't.

Back in the states, a trio of students are chosen to join the ecological researcher and his crew. Along with the researcher's estranged daughter, the small group of tree hugging kids embark on a trip out to the research station. As they are taken by helicopter, each one argues about global warming and the difficult task of changing people's habits. The daughter claims that its hard to change and that ultimately, the work that they are interested in and that with which consumes her father's life, will ultimately prove to be pointless. This sense of hopelessness is one that is pervasive throughout the film.

The kids are diverted to the home of the researcher instead of making it out to the camp and are instructed not to show up. Unbeknownst to them, the researcher is watching and taking notes at the area where the carcass has now been sectioned off. The members of his crew are succumbing to some sort of sickness and we see that something is living and making its way ouf of the partially preserved carcass.

At the house, the kids come across the polar bear which was brought back and placed in the researcher's laboratory. Upon inspection, the guide which brought the kids to the locale is bitten by something and its not long before the contents of the polar bear start to seep out. Prehistoric parasites make their way into a couple of the kids and they wake up to open sores, pissing blood, and bleeding groin areas.

As each member of the group start to fall victim to the parasites, the researcher and father makes his way back home, having fended off his affected crew and taking a gunshot by one of them in the process. After his daughter discovers one of his recorded research tapes about the excavation site, we learn that her father has something far more sinister up his sleeve. And by film's end, we are left with a feeling that man is on the precipice of extinction from something they never knew about or remotely contemplated.

In my humble opinion, The Thaw is the best arctic related horror film since Carpenter's The Thing. Along with evoking some of the same feelings of isolation, the story is wholly original and completely terrifying. The idea of succumbing to something else not related to rising global climates or the loss of resources is really unique and definitely not outside the realm of possibility (BTW, you aren't beaten down with any sort of underlying message). Not too mention the gore scenes really got to me. One sure fire way of doing so is sticking needles or tweezers into open sores and that happened a few times. But by far and away the gnarliest scene occurred when the guide instructed two of the kids to lop off his arm before the parasites could spread. As one of them held down his outstretched arm, the other took a large kitchen knife and struck down on the infected half. But when the first attempt doesn't go through all the way, the sound of taking out the knife thats lodged into bone and flesh is extremely unnerving. Ick!

Cortez The Killer

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Matt-suzaka said...

Wow...the best winter horror since The Thing?! High praise and I'm definitely gonna have to check out The Thaw after reading your review. Great review.

the jaded viewer said...

It makes you scared shitless if we don't recycle, bugs will attack us.

We better recycle.

Planet of Terror said...

No joke, this movie brings the goods. And yes, we better recycle and drive hybrids and eat diarrhea inducing 'green' food products....

Al Bruno III said...

I saw this film on the shelves but wasn't sure if I should take a chance on it. Thank you for your review, now I will try it out.