OCTOBER 26, 2009
I wanted to do “second chance” reviews as a mini "October Extras 3", but with this being the only entry for the month, I guess I’ll just turn it into a monthly feature (so keep the suggestions coming!). But I definitely wanted to kick it off with Wind Chill, which I didn’t like much at all when I saw it in theatres but always had the suspicion that it would play better at home. The isolated setting, the emphasis on atmosphere... it’s far more fitting for a small television than a 60 foot screen.
And I was right! It IS indeed better. But sadly, not by much. The two main things that I disliked about the movie (overly convoluted third act, unlikable protagonists) will be constant regardless of how the film is viewed. Sure, both are easier to digest (I think I even get the ending now, though I’m still a bit fuzzy as to whether or not certain events actually happened), but it still kept me from getting really engrossed in the film. Blunt’s character is introduced as, and for the most part remains, a complete bitch to the guy, and he’s no prize either, what with his creepy stalker-ness and inability to act like a human being. Who argues about laser surgery?
I do love how the film was shot though. Most of my issues are script-based; director Gregory Jacobs and DP Dan Laustsen did some terrific work here (something I did not appreciate my first time, but in my defense I am usually focusing on story when I first see a movie, not technical aspects). Having driven through Pennsylvania/Delaware backroads in the middle of winter myself, I am astounded at how well they fake Canada for them, and they match that gloomy coldness perfectly (I love how all of the daylight scenes seem to have been shot at 4 pm). And while the 2.35 aspect ratio is a bit surprising due to the confined setting, Jacobs fills it well all the same. Carpenter would be proud.
The DVD has a 15 minute making of (it was cold, everyone worked hard, etc, etc) and a commentary by Jacobs and screenwriters Joseph Gangemi and Steven Katz. I enjoy this type of track, as you get story details, casting details (they wanted Shannyn Sossamon - fools!), and technical nuts and bolts stuff, plus the three men occasionally rib each other. One thing they do NOT mention is executive producer George Clooney, whose involvement I am beginning to suspect was honorary.
As one of the few thousand people who saw this film in theaters (US anyway), I almost feel kind of bad not being a big fan of it. Like any film, the hard work of everyone involved shouldn’t be tossed under the rug, even if it wouldn’t have been a very big hit (then again, I always wonder - don’t the executives read these scripts before spending 10 million or whatever on making a noncommercial film?), and I would have liked to have championed it. With a little less convolution and maybe some toning down of Blunt’s bitterness, it would have been a pretty great little chiller, instead of a mildly enjoyable one.
What say you?