Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Val Kilmer, Aaron Ashmore, Martha MacIsaac, Anne Marie De Luise
Directed by Mark A. Lewis
Distributed by Lionsgate Home Entertainment
An eco-scientist researching the effects of global warming at a remote location in the Arctic happens upon the perfectly preserved carcass of a Woolly Mammoth so perfectly preserved prehistoric parasites have continued to fester inside of it. Now the thawed out mites have begun infecting the scientist’s team, eating them alive from the inside out and laying eggs within. These bugs could spell the end of humanity as we know it were they to reach civilization and begin spreading like a plague amid the human populace.
Three graduate students have been selected to join the esteemed scientist up in the Arctic arriving just in time for the bug problem. None of them are meant to be super geniuses but you would still think given their field of study they would be a hell of a lot smarter than most of them prove to be.
You’re college students lucky enough to have been selected to assist an eco-scientist you greatly admire at a remote outpost and arrive to find it mysteriously abandoned with no signs of life; is your first thought really going to be to find a nice dark place to have sex?
Your girlfriend perfectly healthy just a few hours ago is now covered in bug bites, appears to be seriously ill, and is vomiting uncontrollably, and now you are pissing blood; your first thought is to accuse her of cheating on you and infecting you with an STD?
I’d expect this kind of numbskullery from the idiots in Cabin Fever, not college educated environmentalists.
Val Kilmer gets top billing even though he is only in about a third of the film. The real star is Martha MacIsaac of Superbad and the Last House on the Left remake as his estranged daughter, the daughter he tries to stop from coming up to the site, the daughter constantly sniping at him at about everything, the daughter that spends the entire first act coming across as your typical college age brat with daddy issues, but when confronted with the infestation she transforms quite inexplicably into a take-charge female more adept at scientific matters than the other science students. Even the helicopter pilot stranded with them comes across more scientifically savvy than any of the three science dunces.
The Thaw gets off to such a fine start that I couldn’t help but feel let down once the junior Greenpeace science rangers arrived to sully things. The mature actors conveyed more of a sense of fear and desperation in their scenes than their whinier younger counterparts. The cinematography did a great job creating a sense of quiet isolation that gets completely eroded when the action moves almost exclusively indoors once these dullards arrive and the increasingly paranoid bug phobic student with the prehistoric tick in his dick gets hold of the only gun and forcibly declares himself leader. What started out looking like a sharp, brooding chiller thaws into a melting glacier of clichés that should be familiar to anyone who has seen numerous other films with similar scenarios, not to mention a popular first season episode of “The X-Files” from which The Thaw appears to borrow a tremendous amount of its plot from. There was a good movie here that lost its way.
Perhaps the most damning litmus test is that I’m a little on the bug phobic side and can be easily creeped out when it comes to creepy crawlies and at no point did watching these bugs get under other peoples skin get under mine. The make-up effects are sufficiently icky, especially when bugs are shown worming around inside open wounds, though for me the amount of vomiting there was did more to raise my yuck factor than seeing the after effects of flesh having been eaten away or once again witnessing what seems to have become a hallmark of many a modern horror movie: the anesthetically-challenged chopping off of an infected limb.
Not to mention The Thaw’s closing voiceover – the one that precedes the completely tacked-on extra ending – suffers from a certain degree of “inconvenient truth” sanctimony, a good deal of what’s said sounding a little hypocritical given the highly dubious climactic actions of a particular character.
The DVD and the Blu-ray share the same features, and just like the film itself, there’s not much to see here.
2 out of 5
2 of 5
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