Wind Chill – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Director

Gregory Jacobs

Cast

Ashton Holmes Guy
Emily Blunt Girl
Martin Donovan Highway Patrolman
Donny Lucas Stranger

DVD Release Date: September 4, 2007
Rating: R
Running Time: 91 Minutes

The Movie

A college campus during the holidays can get really lonely if you’re stuck there all alone, while your family is at home celebrating. Not all students have their own vehicles and taking the bus can be a real drag, but the friends you meet don’t always live near you either. If the only thing standing in between you and being home for Christmas is a ride with a stranger, then perhaps a long and boring car ride won’t be so bad.

When a young girl needs a ride home, she decides to check the ride board and see if anyone is headed to Delaware. It just so happens that amongst all the ads for books to be sold back and parties that there is someone offering up a ride. She gives the number a call and meets the guy in a parking lot so two strangers can start their trip together. It is obvious from the start that they aren’t going to get along, either. She is a bit too snobby and just outright rude while he happens to be too awkward and also knows a bit too much about his new passenger.

Idle chit-chat is very sparse between the two as the Christmas songs flood the radio and he slips at times with weird little facts he seems to already know about her but shouldn’t. The young girl brushes it off as nothing until they stop for gas and realizes he asked for directions. Questions really begin to come flying out after he turns down a side highway calling it a “short cut.” The truth is on its way out but there are bigger problems ahead of them in the way of a car that just won’t stay to its side of the road. Run off the road and stuck in a snow bank; the kids’ problems are just beginning as some horrible things that happened on that highway many years ago are not yet put to rest. Their long and cold night has only just begun.

I’m not sure if my viewing of this film just came at a good time or if it really is much better then I expected it to be, but it surprised me. The first forty-five minutes of Wind Chill almost made me write it off right from the start. It is kind of dull and very slow moving. If you’ve ever been on a road trip before with friends, you know how boring they can be. Imagine having to watch perfect strangers go on a road trip and just watch them in the car. Pure torture does not even begin to describe it.

When half a film is so boring, it may not seem as if there is any saving it. The entire second half of the film isn’t action-packed or anything but it is absolutely fantastic. There is suspense, tension, some frights, and even a bit of compassion to make it full story in just half the time. My biggest complaint about horror films is that if the audience doesn’t feel strongly about the characters then there’s no sense in killing them off because we won’t care. Here is a film with two characters that I became very attached to and never even learned their names.

Another thing that could possibly turn you off is just how out there the film truly starts off. The elaborate ruse set up by the guy really had me saying, “but how the hell did he get that part to work?” Keep watching though because when it is explained; it all fits together nicely. This so-called turn off though leads to something shocking as well. For a while the film seemed too predictable that there was a smile on my face thinking I knew it all. Nothing says “nice work” like completely proving me wrong and my predictable theories being thrown totally in the toilet.

There are those films that just feel as if they should be watched at certain times of the year and Wind Chill fits that bill. Throughout the duration, I could have sworn that it was mid-December outside and a Christmas tree was standing in my living room. While it is a horror/suspense film, it also invokes a great holiday feeling. It’s just a very pleasant surprise if you can make it past the first half of the film because it truly does get one hundred times more interesting.

The Video

The film is shown in 2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and pretty much is what it is. Considering the entire film takes place in a very limited amount of locations, there isn’t much to see. Problem is that it just doesn’t look too good during intense moments of darkness and other random bright spots (daytime snow shots) are too bright and make for bad viewing. The shots outside of fogged up windows combined with the nighttime darkness actually makes it impossible to see what is going on at times.

The Audio

The film is heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and really gives the film more fear then anything else. The moody music makes for an eerie feel and comes through all speakers very nicely. Mostly everything can be heard really well except the dialogue does get really low sometimes. Usually only for a line or two though, so I’m not sure if it is intentional or just a bad quality moment.

Special Features

Audio Commentary – Director Gregory Jacobs and writers Stephen Katz and Joseph Gangemi give a pretty decent look deeper into the film. They discuss the main set which is not much to talk about other then how they had to keep the fake snow going. Some discussion on others they had in mind for the main roles, what kind of message they were trying to get across, and just some happenings during filming. There isn’t much to it, but it’s not a bad listen to.

“A Frozen Set” – A decent behind-the-scenes look at the film which comes close to twenty minutes in length. The cast and crew discuss the challenges of making a “horror” film without really dealing with any kind of gore. They also talk about the difficulties of working on a small set with limited budget that needed to be taken to its extremes in order to get the full effect of the mood they were going for. Kind of short, but gives a nice look at the whole picture.

TrailersVacancy, Paprika, Resident Evil: Extinction, Angel-A, Rise: Blood Hunter, Perfect Stranger, Hostel Part II, 30 Days Of Night, and Blood And Chocolate

The Inside Pulse

What a truly pleasant surprise Wind Chill turned out to be. And that isn’t only because it didn’t get any press or much time at the theatres. The whole first half of the film had me bored to tears but it all led up to such a great second half that it will end up being a film of many repeat viewings in my household. The special features are rather sparse and those you do get don’t really give much insight into anything. A “making of” featurette that is pretty good but short is all worth watching since the commentary is hit or miss. Although you might as well listen to it since you’re going to watch the film again anyway. I’d suggest a rental, but it wouldn’t be a total waste to pick up your own copy. I can say for sure that Wind Chill is going to become a Christmas staple in my movie viewing each year along with A Christmas Story, Home Alone, and Scrooged.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Wind Chill
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIE

8
THE VIDEO

4
THE AUDIO

7
THE EXTRAS

4
REPLAY VALUE

6
OVERALL
6
(NOT AN AVERAGE)

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