Wednesday, 15 October 2008

No.86 : Wind Chill

Wind Chill at the IMDb

It’s near Christmas and the college kids are heading home for the holidays. Emily Blunt plays a headstrong and opinionated character referred to in the credits as ‘Girl’ who in a text chat with a pal agrees to get a ride home from the shared drives board at the college. She’s lucky to find one going to her home of Delaware and even luckier when the driver referred to as ‘Guy’ waits two hours for her to show up.

His car is a bit bashed up with a wonky door and window and Emily starts to smell a rat when he fails to answer correctly questions about their supposed shared home town. After she gets locked in the bathroom during a rest stop things get a bit fractured, especially when Guy, who supposedly knows the way, is caught getting directions from the spooky gas station attendant. Things come to a head when he takes the car down a snow covered side route and the pair are run off the road into a snow bank by a mysterious car.

When confronted he admits to having set up the journey after overhearing her travel plans as he’s a bit shy and thought a few hours together would bring them closer together. His plan worked, but too well as the pair are now trapped on an isolated road. He doesn't have a cell phone and hers won’t work and to cap it all the food for the journey was left at the college.

Things take a sinister turn when ghostly figures start to appear. Guy finds a burnt out building full of bodies and rosaries after following some monks and she meets a couple of dead school kids and a drowned black man with a habit of vomiting eels. They think salvation is at hand when a policeman appears but he soon turns out to be a bastard and is only stopped when hit over the head. As he goes down, time ripples and our pair are back in the car.

They piece together their stories with the help of an old newspaper and guess that they are being haunted by all the people who’ve ever been killed on this stretch of road. Using movie logic they think that if they make it to sun up they’ll be OK, but Guy is bleeding internally and looking like the road’s next inhabitant. The truth of the road must be revealed if the girl is to survive and can the Guy help in his reduced capacity?

I really enjoyed this spooky ghost story. The device of not naming the characters was a fun nod to the traditional start to the camp fire ghost story “there was this guy and girl…” and the writing was strong enough that you never really noticed the omission of names.

The pacing was really good with it building up gradually before the revelation heavy third act. There were plenty of scares, and for once in a horror film, all were earned - no cats jumping out here! The various spooks were well realised with the ever watchful monks really unsettling. The trim run time of 85 minutes meant there weren't too many dull moments or repetitive appearances of the same ghouls and ghosts.

The conclusion of the film worked well for me and I liked that it was open to interpretation. Having read pages of theories I'm undecided about what happened, and who was a ghost and from when. That said it was effective and unsettling and like any good ghost story you could fill your night after watching it by exchanging your own thoughts and theories with similarly bewildered friends.

The two leads did a good job and their initial frosty match up morphed into a fledgling friendship somewhat seamlessly. The guy character played by Viggo’s son off ‘A History of Violence’, did well as the initially creepy but ultimately heroic stalker, and he left nary a dry eye in my house by the end.

A great little film that fell below my radar on its initial release but one I would heartily recommend the next dark, snowy winter’s night you have in alone. Chilling and thrilling - what more could you ask?

Best Bit : ‘Rockin’ around the Christmas tree..’

‘W’ Score : 20/23

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