Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Thaw - Prehistoric "Parasites" in the Arctic

I am re-posting this blog written last March 22. How was I to know it will be shown in commercial theaters and re-titled "Parasites" by its brain-deficient distributors?


Snow and the freezing environment in vast, unpredictable terrains as backdrop in movies have always fascinated me. This probably roots from my childhood memories of frolics in Lake Tahoe or those memorable journeys to snowcapped Colorado mountains. So if you give me a film that has snow, add a dash of horror or suspense, then I am a happy soul! Mark A. Lewis' "The Thaw" intrigued me, though I have to admit it isn't brilliant movie-making!

Three of Dr. David Kruipen's students have been invited to join him at the Canadian Arctic for his scientific experiments. His estranged daughter Evelyn (Martha McIsaac) joins them for the ride (just so she can get her inheritance - not unlike KC Concepcion in "I'll Be There"). But unknown to the thermally-challenged crew, Dr. Kruipen (Val Kilmer) has discovered a mysterious thawing mammoth, a prehistoric animal that is believed to be the evolutionary "predecessor" of present-day elephants (Haven't you seen any of the "Ice Age" movies?). As he examines further, he unearths a virulently spreading prehistoric vertebrate parasites that can decimate flesh in minutes! When the parasites finally catch up with the guests, the remaining survivor must do everything to contain the "bugs" from reaching the civilized world!

Though the story feels derivative - there have been great titles like Bille August's "Smilla's Sense of Snow" (with Julia Ormond), Zacharias Kunuk's "Atanarruat - The Fast Runner", Asif Kapadia's "Far North" (with Michelle Yeoh), even Kate Beckinsale's recent "Whiteout"? - I still relished on the element of isolation, the immense power of a harsh environment against human will, and the indomitable spirit that permeate this arctic thriller! It would have been the perfect avenue for searing character studies. Unfortunately, the story teller just isn't that insightful. If you were bored at home, this would be an acceptable alternative to counting the nails on your ceiling. Other than that, I can go back to daydreaming about Lake Tahoe.

Val Kilmer is ecologist Dr. David Kruipen.

Aaron Ashmore is ecology student Atom. Ashmore is a veteran to several suspense-thriller and horror films. The latest I saw just a few days ago was "Fear Island" (a TV movie) with Haylie Duff and Lucy Hale. Interestingly, Ashmore appears alongside Kyle Schmid in "The Thaw" and Michael Storey's "Fear Island". What are the odds of that happening?

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