Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Lacey Chabert, Tygh Runyan, Mercedes McNab, Brandon Quinn
Directed by Jeffery Scott Lando
Distributed by First Look Studios
You are no doubt familiar with the negative connotation "as exciting as watching paint dry". It turns out the same goes for watching people pretending to dehydrate.
The couple stranded out in the middle of the ocean struggling to survive in Open Water found themselves in peril due to the gross negligence of others. The quartet out in the middle of the desert struggling to survive in Thirst are in peril due to their own stupidity. Yeah, let's head out into an uninhabited section of the desert so secluded it's considered "virgin territory", and when we get to this location far, far away from civilization without having told anyone where we were going and without any form of cellular phone service or means by which to alert anyone where we are in case of emergency, we are then going to sneak past a gated section and leave the main road just to make absolutely certain we are even more out of the middle of nowhere, and we are not going to bring so much as a compass, any food, very little bottled water, no sunblock or proper protection from the blazing sun, and who needs a spare tire when riding around on rough terrain in the middle of a wasteland? These four people were jockeying for a Darwin Award; yet, when they end up broken down in the desert for days dehydrating to death, this movie expects me to empathize with them and remain on the edge of my seat in suspense as to whether or not any of them will survive this ordeal. We mock Darwin Award winners for their stupidity. We do not feel sorry for them.
Why are they headed into the desert to begin with? For a bikini photo shoot. Since I know some horn dog reading this review is bound to ask; Lacey Chabert does appear briefly in a bikini. No, she does not get naked. She does get very, very, very dirty, but not in the way that people deciding whether or not to watch this film based on this paragraph alone would like.
Chabert stars as a pregnant med student married to an ineffectual guy (Tygh Runyan of Snakes on a Plane and Boot Camp) and best friends with a model (Mercedes McNab of "Buffy" and "Angel") dating a photographer (Brandon Quinn, "Big Wolf on Campus"). This foursome gets it in their heads that a bikini photo shoot using hell on earth as scenery sounds like a good idea. Off they go to parts unknown completely unprepared even if they didn’t crash their truck and find themselves stuck smack dab in no man's land with no chance of rescue. I found it nearly impossible to care if anyone in this film lived or died and not just because they were such bores; they were completely at fault for getting themselves into this life or death predicament, a reality the film never honestly addressed.
For a film that hinges on achieving a degree of gritty realism, I am left to wonder why these people trapped out in the desert almost never appeared to sweat even before the severe dehydration kicked in or were nowhere near as sunburned as one would expect people to be after baking in the blazing desert sun for a week. They do get plenty dirty, though, no doubt about that.
With a film like Open Water you had characters that were truly helpless, at the mercy of the currents, their situation all the more grim due to the vastness of the ocean and the constant threat of what predators might be lurking just below the surface of the water. Contrast that with the impoverished anguish of Thirst. The threat of dangerous desert wildlife is almost non-existent, and most of the suspense is built around desperate hiking treks in search of water and "Don't drink that! It's not water!" moments. There are also entirely too many scenes of these vapid human beings lying around feeling sorry for themselves. Again, their lack of common sense got them into this mess.
I don't envy any actors or filmmakers facing the arduous task of crafting a survival thriller centralized on characters stranded in an arid landscape slowly dehydrating - difficult subject matter to make into entertaining cinematic spectacle. I found Thirst to be dry as a bone, a slow-moving yawner populated with characters too stupid to live in the first place.
I will say this in its favor. I don't recall having ever seen a nightmare sequence involving a zombie clutching a breast implant before. I was actually thinking this silly dream sequence was just a comical moment meant to momentarily lighten the mood until the climax when it turned out that dream actually had a preposterous hidden meaning. I guess the true lesson of Thirst is that if you ever end up out on the desert dying from dehydration, make sure you bring along Heidi Montag just in case.
1 out of 5
0 out of 5