The Thaw

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When a group of students take a trip up to the Artic in order to study with an illustrious scientific environmentalist they discover not only the chance to study something not seen in thousands of years, but a level of terror none of them are ready to experience.

It’s an unfortunate but all too common problem one has to deal with when one is dead, something no member of the walking dead will ever admit he’s had, but something all of us ghouls dread……….worms. You have no idea how terrible it feels to have a thousand squirming insects plowing through your body like Charlie Sheen through an 8Ball of coke, it’s horrible, horrible beyond horrible. What’s even worse is they can’t eat any our flesh anyways, it’s toxic for them and they know it but the flies only think of the dead flesh without realizing their young will just die off. It’s a real pain in the ass to get rid of the things too, something even I, in all my twisted, perverted glory cannot in good conscious describe to you. Because of this, I couldn’t help but cringe a little more at the creepy, crawly flick that has tiny insects infesting living humans.

Our parasitic film begins with a research scientist (Val Kilmer in a role suited just for him) discussing sacrifice to his camera, something he has apparently not understood up until now. The camera suddenly switches over to a woman trying to get what looks like a large termite out of her head before the chaotic and enchanting credits start up, credits which play a mysterious part of what you’re about to see. Several people debate the destruction humans are wrecking upon the planet (one of who happens to be the cancer man from X-Files) before news footage of a brand new epidemic blasts across the screen and scenes of the world’s end fill our eyes. We than switch over to what can only be the past as our research scientist from the beginning is seen tracking a polar bear in the artic. This is where he comes across the thawing head of a Woolly Mammoth, something the polar bear had been chewing on only moments before. After only two days it is apparent that things at the research camp have gone from bad to worse and things are only looking down. This happens to be very unfortunate timing as a group of college kids are traveling to study with the illustrious ecoterrorist/scientist and are already on their way. They arrive only to find the research base deserted and worse yet, infested with insects. As they try to understand the mess they’ve gotten themselves into and figure the whereabouts of their scientific idol, things quickly deteriorate and the group soon finds themselves in a very deadly ecological disaster.

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{Some things are better left buried}

Okay, so seeing Val Kilmer mentioned among the actors is probably going to deter a few people from checking out the film, and I can’t really blame them. The actor’s extremely poor attempts at playing Batman have earned him the ire of nerds worldwide and a string of poor roles only made it worse. Still, every once in a while the man puts out a good flick and when he goes at a role like a true actor he does a really good job and thankfully he goes at the role of environmentalist whack job Dr. Kruipen, the film’s villainous research scientist, but before I go into the movie’s acting talents, let’s talk about the movie itself.

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{We can start picking my brain now}

There is one thing this movie excelled at and it’s what made it the enjoyable watching experience it was, the brilliantly done, very creepy, and never safe atmosphere. The whole movie is extremely creepy, I mean in a way that would make a clown cry (that’s how they show fear…didn’t you know that). On top of this excellent creepiness is a feeling that there is no way to be safe. Being in the middle of the Arctic Tundra this group’s one safe haven is the small research laboratory and they can’t be safe in there because the damn bugs are everywhere, including inside of a few unlucky individuals, showing that, at least in this movie and much like a Detroit prostitute, even your own body isn’t safe. It’s that last bit (no, not the Detroit prostitute) that makes this movie even better, the idea that your body is no longer yours but host to a parasitic creature ready to devour you alive. It was done with an artist’s touch, but it was the great acting that really made the feeling what it was.

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{Not a preferable fate}

Val Kilmer does a great job pulling off a misguided environmentalist with quite a nasty streak, even out doing the parasites as the film’s major villain, but it is the film’s group of students (plus one helicopter pilot) that really shine. They pull of the terror and paranoia perfectly as they slowly fall apart amidst the horror surrounding them and the knowledge that each and every one of them is probably already infected but no one can really know for sure. There is an insanity that builds as the movie progresses and these actors do a great job of portraying both the subtle beginning effects and the more serious ones later on in the film. It could not have been what it was if it hadn’t have been for these very talented actors.

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{Whack job suits Kilmer well}

Still, even with a great story (and this is a great story that kept me firmly entrenched the entire time), an awesome cast, and a finely tuned, chilly atmosphere there is still one thing that could have ruined it, the parasites themselves. I say could have because thankfully for you and I they did a bang up job with the ant sized critters. The smartest move on their part was not overdoing it, what I mean is that they didn’t make these things into fantastical horrific looking super insects; they kept them fairly normal to be honest. They look like a cross between a termite and an ant, with very proportionately sized mandibles. It’s kind of funny because they aren’t amazingly monstrous things, but this fact actually makes them more monstrous only because they look like something you might find in your backyard. It gives them a sense of realism that makes them much more terrifying than something fantastical.

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{Seeing them swarm is disconcerting as well}

The Thaw was an amazing movie that managed to not only creep me the hell out but give me a few good scares as well. The ecological side to the movie might be kind of lame but it never detracts from the movie itself.

 

The Undead Review

 

 

Directed By: Mark A. Lewis (Conversation with the Supplicant, Ill Fated)

Starring: Val Kilmer (The Ghost in the Darkness, The Chaos Experiment), Aaron Ashmore (Smallville {TV}, Privileged), Anne Marie DeLuise (Shock to the System, Black Christmas), and Martha MacIssac (Superbad, The Last House on the Left)

Released By: Ghosthouse Underground and Anagram Pictures

Release Year: 2009

Release Type: Straight to Video

MPAA Opinion: Rated R

About The Undead Review

When I was alive I was an asshole and after I died remained pretty much the same, if not a little worse. You’d think becoming a member of the walking dead would mellow a person out, no more worrying about awkward small talk with people, no more having to be politically correct, and the entire world is your upright, bipedal buffet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun as hell to be a zombie, just somewhat irritating at times, especially those times you have to watch a lame movie or read a lame book. Thankfully, when I am forced to watch these films or read those books, I’ve got places like The Undead Review to bitch and moan to my heart’s content. {When he’s not devouring the living or sinking his teeth into a good film The Undead Review (Andy Taylor) spends his time writing his own stories or hunting down the paranormal. Oh, and did we mention his blind dog once saved the world?)
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