247°F (2013)

Phew! 247°F is hot! I mean the temperature, not this movie. The movie is lukewarm at best and – at worst – a tepid snooze-fest. It is possibly the least tense horror film ever made. No matter how much you like people in swimwear, 247°F will leave you cold.

The plot is screamingly simple: three friends get locked inside a sauna and face the prospect of dehydrating to death unless they can find a way out. But were they locked in there deliberately?

There has been a lot of comparisons between this and Frozen, but I want to stop that now. Frozen is fantastically tense, terrifying, harrowing and a genuinely excellent horror film. Why? The main crux of it comes from the situation itself; three people who are genuinely isolated and without any options. They can’t wait for help or they’ll freeze to death. They can’t climb down without serious injuries… and if they DO get to the floor they’ve got to face the wolves!

247°F is about three people who could’ve just WAITED. They could’ve rationed their water and eventually been rescued. If you’re stuck in a sauna for 24 hours you won’t die. The ‘tension’ is created by screamingly-obvious red herrings and by the characters inside the sauna making problems for themselves. It’s the anti-Frozen in every way, including quality.

What’s unforgivable in 247°F is the 30 minutes of ‘prelude’ we get beforehand, which poorly covers the filmmakers desperate attempt to extend a 60 minute idea into a feature film. There is no ‘character building’, just a lot of getting in and out of a sauna… it’s cripplingly dull.

Now, having just enjoyed Women in Horror Recognition Month perhaps my mind was set to feminism overdrive when I was watching 247°F, because I found the general dynamic inside the sauna decidedly sexist.

Our protagonist Jenna (Scout Taylor-Compton of the Halloween remake franchise) literally sits around, squealing about her claustrophobia and mourning the loss of her fiancé (from three years ago), the other woman Renee (Christina Ulloa) just antagonizes Jenna or screams about her utter disdain for her missing boyfriend… whilst the heroic and very smart man (played by Travis Van Winkle) tries everything humanly possible to help the them, resulting in shattering his hand and basically blowing himself up. This is compounded when he smashes the window and the two women PUSH him out of the way to breathe the fresh air… nice portrayal of women there. But the women do wear bikinis, so yay feminism?

The biggest sin any horror film can commit is failing to create any tension or horror and 247°F is unfortunately a big sinner. There are no scares, no jumps, no surprises, no actual reveal (unless you’re really quite stupid) and features a protagonist that is entirely passive for the majority of the film. Scout Taylor-Compton literally just sits around, mourning her long-dead boyfriend and getting a bit sweaty.

It’s a shame 247°F wasn’t better. It’s well directed by Levan Bakhia & Beqa Jguburia and features a greatly likeable turn from Tyler Mane (another Halloween remake survivor) as Uncle Wade, but the limited plot and surprises just result in a really dragging experience.

247°F is not sexy or savvy or steamy or whatever other nonsense the marketing people might want to chuck at you. It’s dull and cloying and as intriguing as a wet flannel. It’s not even a horror film. Avoid.

Rating: ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

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