Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Thaw (2009)

The threat of global warming is an issue few are ignorant on, but which many still seem to ignore. The melting ice caps, changes in climate and extinction of species definitely point to a troubling future, but it seems that few have done anything to cut back on their environmental impact on the Earth (don’t worry, I’m not going to start preaching at you).

Now, whether you believe in global warming or not, it still falls to logic that all our pollution from various industries must be affecting the environment in some way, or, at the very least, that natural resources are becoming more and more limited as more and more people inhabit our world. You can’t really argue that this doesn’t pose a strain on our environment, but still many of us (including me) have a tendency to turn a blind eye to the destruction of our planet.

Throughout history there have been instances where disease, natural disasters and other catastrophes happen that result in a large percentage of the human population being thinned. Do you ever wonder what the next chaotic event will be? Do you ever wonder if Mother Nature will finally do something to protect herself and lash out at the human population? Well, The Thaw poses that frightening question and answers it with a pretty scary conclusion.

A renowned eco-scientist, Dr. David Kruipen (Val Kilmer) is in remote northern Canada researching the effects of global warming. He and his team uncover the preserved remains of a woolly mammoth, but soon discover that the mammoth is also harboring a deadly 20,000 year-old parasite that quickly infects them.

Meanwhile, a group of three students and Kruipen’s daughter Evelyn (Martha MacIsaac, from The Last House on the Left remake) are on their way up to the research facility. When they arrive via helicopter, they discover the research facility deserted…except for a decaying corpse of a polar bear.

They soon discover that the nasty little parasites are inside the polar bear and lay eggs inside of their victims. Sure enough, they start getting bitten by the parasites, but that’s not all. After the bugs lay eggs inside their hosts, they eat their way from the inside out. The group must find a way to stop the bug’s spread, before they are unleashed upon the world.

The Thaw is a realistic horror film that seems especially relevant in these turbulent times. I like my horror films to be pertinent and socially conscious, and The Thaw fit the bill perfectly. Of course, even those that prefer blood and guts over social commentary will also be pleasantly surprised by the tension-filled The Thaw.

In addition to the relevant story, the pacing of the film is very fast. From the opening scenes of a nasty bug extraction to Dr. Kruipen’s videotaped confessions to a grisly scene of amputation and the nasty bug infestations, my eyes were glued to the screen for the entire running time. The action was tense, and except for a few poor decisions by the characters, everything felt very realistic. The characters were also refreshing and didn’t feature the usual dumb teens. Evelyn was a wonderful final girl who took charge almost immediately and seemed to have more common sense and scientific knowledge than the students. The students were a bit grating at times, but overall their characters’ reactions felt realistic…even if some of their decisions were poor.

As for the actors, most of them did a commendable job, especially Martha MacIsaac as Evelyn. She came off as a spoiled brat in the beginning, but really showed some intense leadership skills as the film progressed. I also have to point out Viv Leacock, who played Bart the helicopter pilot, for his even and brave portrayal…even during and after a nasty amputation. Val Kilmer must also be mentioned here, even if he was only in a third of the film. He played the Doctor very convincingly, with an eerie, unsettling calmness that really forewarned of the calamity that would follow in his wake.

The special effects were the real standouts of the film, though. From the parasites burrowing and squirming into flesh to the mushy egg sacs to the freshly-hatched young devouring their hosts and so on, I was left with the heebie jeebies! Nothing is completely over-the-top, but the gruesome scenes carry with them a sense of reality, like something is possible and could happen…if we aren’t careful. The film reminded me of a mix of Cabin Fever, The Ruins and The Last Winter.

The Thaw is a film that creeps under your skin and squirms there, tickling your mind with its social conscious stance as well as its gruesome set pieces. It reminds us that Mother Nature can only take so much before she reveals her most shocking secrets to us…secrets that could spell humanity’s demise.

Order it on Amazon!

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