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A couple of college students known only as the Girl and the Guy are traveling home to Delaware the day before Christmas Eve. They're on a frozen road that the Guy is convinced is a scenic short-cut. In the middle of nowhere in below freezing conditions they are run off the road by a hit and runner. They soon realize they're caught in a supernatural bubble where a crime from 1953 is doomed to repeat itself, year after year threatening new victims. The Guy attempts to walk back to the last petrol station but his wounds from the crash are worse than he let on. Written by
It's a shame more horror fans either aren't or can't see this movie, because it may very well signify a shift in the contemporary horror film (as of Spring 2007, when it was released).
The first "Saw" movie is usually seen as heralding a new direction and a new popularity in horror when it was first released and, despite the fact that the movie is principally a really twisty whodunit, it spawned dozens upon dozens of movies based on its essential formula: people (usually teenagers, often teen actors on their summer hiatus from their WB TV shows) in peril threatened with ghastly violence shown explicitly. The studios put any number of old movies into the remake machine in order to retrofit them with the new formula--and an R rating--to the point where these movies had the repetitive predictability of a Catholic mass.
Besides being bored with this genre, the massacres at Virginia Tech, I think, forced people to look to a new incarnation of horror--although, to be honest, I think current events have only a momentary impact on the movies. And that's where "Wind Chill" comes in.
"Wind Chill" is a movie which will disappoint you if you're hoping to see "Hostel"--a type of movie some people have compared to porn in its lack of substance apart from its depictions of explicit physical acts (in this case, violence). It's a thoughtful movie which takes the traditional elements of the most primitive horror movies and re-imagines them for our time. Think of the old James Whale haunted house movie, "The Old Dark House," and compare it to "Wind Chill" and you'll see how our oldest fears are presented anew--as if to say those old fears are never eliminated. This is the archetypal basis of the entire genre.
The movie isn't perfect--it's too talky, the exposition is piled on in the last third, the scares are rarely effective, and the resolution isn't quite plausible. But I thought it was fun and weird and full of unexpected depth.
I'm not certain in which direction "Wind Chill" is pointing the horror movie--maybe in the direction of the late 60s/early 70s "just slightly off" horror like "Rosemary's Baby" or the old "Night Gallery" TV series--rather than in the direction of grind house horror. But it's a worthwhile experiment.
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