APRIL 30, 2014
SOURCE: DVD (SCREENER)
Halfway or so through Blood Glacier I realized something kind of amusing: it was a better remake/prequel of The Thing than the actual one we got in 2011. It's an ecologically based monster instead of an alien, but it's impossible to ignore the similarities: a research team in the middle of a frozen nowhere is besieged by a variety of monsters with almost no chance of escape, and there's even a scene where three men are awkwardly sat on a couch listening to another talk, framed exactly like the one in Carpenter's film (albeit without such a glorious punchline). Oh, and dog lovers might want to steer clear or at least keep a finger near the fast forward button if watching at home, just fair warning. A bit of The Mist creeps its way in as well, making this a feast for monster movie fans - it draws from the best while still giving us something we haven't seen before.
The title is kind of misleading, however - the titular glacier is not the real menace of the film, but instead where it originated. I had visions of a Blob like glacier terrorizing our heroes (sort of like THIS!), but what happens is, the "blood" that oozes from the glacier infects people and wildlife, which is why we get a variety of creatures - director Martin Kren offers us something different in nearly every big sequence, from insects to slug like things to a giant condor like thing. Any one of these infected creatures would make for an intriguing movie villain, but by offering them all (and others) it keeps you on your toes and pumps up the variety in a surprising way. It's sort of like Frogs in that regard; they were hardly the only antagonist (or would it be protagonist?) in that movie, letting turtles and snakes and whatever else get in on the action.
Another thing I appreciated was that it doesn't get too preachy with the ecological message. Some text at the beginning is the most direct the film gets to placing blame anywhere; in the narrative itself it's an issue they have to deal with, and nothing more. We get an explanation for HOW it's formed (infected blood mixing in the stomach with other things the host body ate, producing a new organism - it's awesome), but no specific party is to blame for the toxin (and it's HUMANITY'S fault that the ice has melted enough to set it free). Had they gone the Prophecy (bear, not angel) route and introduced a human villain specifically responsible for the monster, I don't think it would work nearly as well as it does. That said, I would love to see more eco-horror; the 70s produced its fair share of them, but there haven't been many since. With all the issues we deal with now (and more scientific proof that they're not just theoretical fears), I think the sub-sub-genre can really thrive, but it needs something bigger than a German-language monster movie (or a found footage movie dumped by Blumhouse) to really come to prominence. Maybe Godzilla can kinda sorta pave the way?
But really, the film's strength is that it does things right. The glacier is found within the first ten minutes, after we've been introduced to some (not all) of our protagonists. There's a bit of humor, some suspense, some suspense WITH humor (I don't know if there's an award for best pissing scene in a horror, or best punchline to said pissing, but if so this movie's got a lock on the win), and a big cast of folks (of different ages, but thankfully no kids) that Kren isn't trying to kill seconds after their introduction, putting this firmly alongside Tremors as the best kind of monster movie. You don't want to see anyone die, and the filmmakers let them escape the monsters time and time again, peppering a few deaths along the way to keep the stakes high, but never reducing it down to people you know will live.
And the scenery keeps changing as often as the monsters, as we divide our time between the group at the science base and a motley group making their way there (including the ex wife of one of the base guys, giving it some human drama that, shockingly, actually benefits the movie instead of dragging it down, though to get into specifics would be spoiler territory). So you'll get some time at the base, maybe a quick scare, and then it's off to the others who are dealing with their own problems (read: different monsters). They don't all meet up until almost the one hour mark, which works splendidly - by then we are invested in the situation that spending the rest of the time in one spot isn't an issue. In fact, I only had one issue of note, but it's at the very end and thus I can't get into it for fear of spoilers (it's a payoff to the human drama thing I mentioned earlier, but a very odd one that should result in too many questions from the other characters).
That's it though! Everything else worked as intended, and I had a damn fun time watching - even the appearance of the title was enjoyable! Kren's previous film, Rammbock, was enjoyable but too slight (64 minutes with credits) to really make an impression, so this is a much better showcase of his talents, offering an exciting story in a sub-genre that isn't overused, some unique monsters (a blend of CGI and practical), and a few deaths that rival the best of the Feast series. IFC is putting it out, which means you probably won't be able to see it theatrically unless you live in a big city - but if you're one of those lucky folks grab a bunch of friends and enjoy on the big screen. Otherwise just settle for VOD or whatever; it's worth the cost.
What say you?