Ice Road Terror (2011)
Directed by Terry Ingram
Ice Road Terror takes its cue from the popular History Channel documentary-style reality series “Ice Road Truckers”. For those unfamiliar with that program, it follows big rig truckers hauling supplies amid hazardous winter conditions across frozen lakes and dangerous ice roads to miners and other remote locales in Canada’s Northwest Territories. Ice Road Terror transplants the action to Alaska – possibly explaining why the weather and terrain appear far less threatening than in reality - and adds to the dangerous nature of their job by tossing in a toothy, Gila monster-esque, subterranean dinosaur of Eskimo legend with a taste for surface dwellers.
A pair of hot shot ice road truckers vying for some sort of award for most trips agree to haul truckloads of explosives (that take an awfully long time to blow up when the rig catches fire) up to a remote mining site where a prehistoric reptilian monster has just been inadvertently unearthed. A pretty environmentalist happens to need a lift up to the site and rides along with the trucker she’s designated to find romance with.
Lots of reaction shots abound when this creature is around, often I strongly suspect because the monster effect was too costly or time-consuming to set up for a Syfy shoot. The computer animated creature often looks unpolished, in a couple of shots, even unfinished. I’ve frequently decried how little charm there is to be found looking at an unconvincing computer animated monster so I will refrain from reciting that rant yet again.
Let me just say this about all the blood splattered about; someone in the f/x department clearly went to the supermarket and bought up every jar of “extra chunky” Ragu.
A rousing opening introducing the beast of the week gradually gives way to a strictly boilerplate Syfy monster movie that is competently made yet not a whole lot of fun to watch. This very much reminded me of certain old black & white monster movies of the Fifties and Sixties, the ones that are drier than the Sahara when the focus is on the human drama. I honestly have no complaints about the performers, the direction, or the script here. Ice Road Terror is an earnest b-grade monster movie not striving for camp that’s biggest failing is it being blandly generic.
It take that back. The biggest failing – again, almost assuredly due to production limitations - is that halfway thru the entire ice road trucking aspect stalls out in lieu of spending the remainder of the film with this small set of characters boarded up inside a house fending off a monster - a monster that is powerful enough to smash its way through layers of solid ice but has an awfully difficult time busting through plywood.
I can assure you that we’re going to be seeing quite a few more Syfy monster and disaster flicks in the future with premises that tie-in somehow to popular cable reality programs. Cross your fingers and maybe we’ll get Cake Boss Apocalypse and Toddlers & Tiaras vs. Supergator.
2 out of 5
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