Wind Chill (2007)

Directed By: Gregory Jacobs
Written By: Stephen Katz
  Joe Gangemi
Starring: Emily Blunt
  Ashton Holmes
  Martin Donovan
Wind Chill

Wind Chill is a very decent horror film. It may be occasionally clichéd, and may confuse some audiences, but the acting, direction and script are beautifully crafted. Wind Chill is well worth your attention.

It’s December 23rd and a nameless Girl (Emily Blunt) desperately wants to get home to Delaware. Despite usually flying, she decides to take a “car share” home with a Guy (Ashton Holmes). Using a short-cut down the ominous Route 606, they’re driven off the road by another car and smash into a snow drift. Stuck, alone, freezing and with no food, it looks like things couldn’t get any worse… until figures start to appear in the woods and everything quickly goes from bad to terrifying…

What makes Wind Chill work so well is the relationship between the two characters “Guy” and “Girl”. Emily Blunt’s Girl is an aggravatingly selfish, self-serving, rude little bitch. Her ride is a Catholic-school graduate majoring in Eastern religion, and unsurprisingly irritated by his thankless passenger. However, the tables slowly turn as you become suspicious of the Guy’s motivations. When he mentions how good Girl looks in glasses and she replies “How would you know? I never wear them outside my dorm,” you realize this little religious boy might know more about the Girl than he ever should.

A fractured relationship is no revelation in a horror film, of course, but this is so unique and beautifully crafted by both leads that it is a compelling watch. As the finale approaches you really feel you know the characters and are desperate for them to survive.

Survive what, though? The real joy of Wind Chill is not really understanding what they are initially up against, which is compelling stuff, and once the reveal begins it does lose some of its tension. It does not, however, lose its sense of threat and creepiness, which laces its way through the film from start to end.

Wind Chill is dipped in creepiness and the constant reminder of death – gravestone markers on the roadside, R.I.P. messages on bathroom mirrors – but done subtly enough to make it very effective. There is also a really odd scene in a rest stop, which adds layers of mystery and an element of unexpected threat early on. This subtle approach really digs its way in and stays with you for a long time after.

This quality scripting comes as no surprise when you consider it’s made by the writer of The Shadow of the Vampire (Stephen Katz) who, along with co-writer Joe Gangemi, have tragically done nothing since. It is also absurd that director Gregory Jacobs has not directed anything after Wind Chill, especially considering he’s been the Assistant Director on a number of high profile Hollywood films (all the Ocean’s films, Che and The Informant).

Despite the great acting, direction and writing, the occasional less-is-more lesson needs revising better, as a lot of the better scares come from the figures in the distance and the shadows in the snowstorm. Thankfully there is only one really dumb decision, which will have you screaming “don’t leave the damn car!”, but this is followed by one of the most simultaneously idiotic and genius plans ever committed to film.

Some may also find Wind Chill ticks a number of the horror-cliché boxes with little shame, but it’s done so well and with such subtlety that it’s instantly forgivable and hardly noticeable.

Wind Chill is a solid, creepy, disturbing little horror film. The occasional scene or moment lets it down, and the story isn’t hugely original, but overall it grips, thrills and sends creeping shudders down your back long after it’s finished. A decent horror film that tragically fell under the radar when it was released.

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

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