A whole lotta nothin’ going on.
Creature from the Black Lagoon graced movie screens in 1954. It was a simpler time, so we didn’t begrudge the fact that the creature was some dude in a rubber suit. In this day and age, there’s no place for those kinds of practical monster effects, and Hypothermia’s monster getup is even worse than the Creature. Where those early creature features fall into the “so bad it’s good” genre, this film is just bad.
Ray Pelletier (Michael Rooker, Cliffhanger), his wife Helen (Blanche Baker, Sixteen Candles), son David (Benjamin Forster), and David’s fiancée Gina (Amy Change) are engaging in the their family’s favorite pastime: Ice fishing (Yeah, I don’t get it either). They’re joined on the ice by the father and son team of obnoxious Steve Cote (Don Wood) and Stevie Junior (Greg Finley). But there are more than a handful of humans occupying this frosty wilderness. You see, these families are being hunted by a strange creature living deep in the watery depths, and if they don’t scram they just may become fish food.
I loved Michael Rooker in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, but how he got involved in this project is beyond me. In a bonus feature interview, Rooker says he got a call in the middle of the night to do the film. Maybe he shouldn’t make those kind of decisions while engulfed in the foggy haze of a deep sleep. Regardless of the how and why, Rooker is the best thing about Hypothermia. He plays the blue collar tough guy very well, and is just fine here as the working class father to a college educated son. But even he can’t rescue this mess.
The problem with Hypothermia lies primarily with writer/director James Felix McKenney. A piece of advice: If you don’t have enough money for a quality monster costume, don’t show the thing at all. It would be far better to allow our imagination to conjure up what kind of beast is living under the ice, instead of us laughing at the guy in the wet suit with a giant plastic sea monster head.
Beyond the creature catastrophe, the cast labors under the weight of a so-so script, delivered through line reads that are barely believable. Don Wood looks and sounds like a Jason Sudeikis character on Saturday Night Live. I kept waiting for him to pull out his red sweats and start dancing for the camera…”What’s Up With That?” And though the movie claims to only be 73 minutes long, it feels like 730 minutes. Fighting my way through tired eyes and bouts of boredom, the end approached. Thank goodness! But not before a bizarre monologue from one of the characters so touched the heart of the monster in the rubber suit, that it spared their lives. Oh Marg-a-ret! This has to be seen to be believed. In fact, it’s the only reason I’m recommending this film to anyone.
Presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, Dark Sky Films offers up a nice transfer, showcasing the snow-covered ice lake and its beautiful surroundings. The Dolby 5.1 Surround mix made for dialogue that was easy to hear (unfortunately), and suspenseful sounds of the monster lurking in the shadows. Then the damn thing jumps out in the open and ruins everything. Bonus features include three behind-the-scenes featurettes — about as interesting as the movie itself — and the film’s trailer.
Hypothermia misses the mark on almost all counts, which is too bad because it had the potential to be one of those undiscovered little treasures you sometimes find with low budget horror.