The Film: Hypothermia (2010)
The Principles: James Felix McKenney (writer/director), Michael Rooker, Blanche Baker, Ben Forster, Amy Chang, Don Wood, Greg Finley
The Premise: The Pelletier family and two neighboring fishers are stalked by a creature living under a frozen lake as viewers struggle to stay conscious. Spoiler: no one gets hypothermia.
Is it good? I could recite a list of all the denigrating adjectives that describe just how bloody awful this atrocity is and it would be longer than Hypothermia’s 72-minute runtime. The fact that James Felix McKenney managed to make a creature-feature starring Michael Rooker actually put me to sleep is a testament to just how bad things get here.
Rooker plays Ray Pelletier, who is taking his wife Helen (Baker), son David (Forster), and David’s girlfriend Gina (Chang) on their annual ice-fishing trip, because apparently people consider that a vacation. We begin with Ray falling (or being pulled? Hmm) through the ice after Helen has called him back to the cabin for dinner. After hours have gone by and night has fallen with no signs of Ray, David has the brilliant realization that something may be wrong. Turns out Ray has been laying on the ice all night and just needed to be dragged back to the cabin for some hot tea. After a few jokes at Ray’s expense, the family calls it a night so they can rest up for a long day of fishing.
Things move along at a glacial* pace as the family spends the next day sitting on top of a frozen lake waiting for a bite, and we are privy to fascinating conversation that includes David’s news that he and Gina are joining the Peace Corps, as well as nine or ten more jokes about Ray’s earlier accident. Not a single word of dialogue is spoken throughout Hypothermia that would hint at things like character development, theme, or even the slightest suggestion of the hammy morals or surface-level character growth that can usually be found in the direct-to-video horror realm.
The pace should pick up when manic Cote (Wood) and his son Steve (Finley) enter the fray, driving their tricked out RV on to the ice as Cote hoots and hollers about the big catch he’s after. Unfortunately Cote’s scene-chewing just comes off as mildly irritating, and we’re given no explanation as to how he’s heard of the creature lurking beneath the ice or why he so badly wants to kill it. Even after an encounter with the monster that leaves Steve with a gash that has split his entire forearm open, Cote remains steadfast in his pursuit, refusing to take his son to the hospital. “He just needs a shower.” A shower!
We’re only given brief glimpses throughout the first 45 minutes, so my only hope at the halfway point of this disaster was to at least see a nifty monster. We don’t get too many guy-in-a-suit creatures these days, so I was looking forward to some original practical makeup. What we end up with is a guy in a wetsuit wearing a bondage mask that was painted to look like a Chain Chomp from Super Mario Bros. I wish I could say this was a so-bad-it’s-funny scenario, but the sheer stupidity of the preceding nonsense combined with my growing concern for Michael Rooker’s mental well-being erased any shred of ironic enjoyment that may have remained.
At the end of the day after enough people have bit the dust, it turns out (spoilers, I guess) the only thing the creature needed was a stern talking-to by the woman of the house. I wish I could say I was joking, but no, Hypothermia abruptly ends after Helen lets the monster know that they just wanted to go ice-fishing, and he should leave her family alone.
Is it worth a look? If you gave me a choice between losing some toes to hypothermia and watching this piece of garbage again, I might actually need a few minutes to think it over. As the credits rolled, I was overcome with a strong urge to give Michael Rooker a hug and ask him if he’s okay.
So, no, fine readers. It is not worth a look.
Random anecdotes: The Chain Chomp first appeared in Super Mario Bros 3.
Upon completion of filming, Michael Rooker had to spend eight months in grief counseling after realizing what he had just done.
Two toes. That’s how many I’d probably be willing to part with rather than revisit Hypothermia.
Cinematic soulmates: The rest of Dark Sky Films’ horseshit.