Director – Mark A. Lewis
Cast – Martha MacIssac, Val Kilmer, Aaron Ashmore, Steph Song (War), Anne Marie DeLuise, Sebastian Gacki, John Callander
Release Year – 2009
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I gave this Ghost House film a watch simply because of its biology-influenced plot, which if you know me is always a way to get my attention. If you know anything about global warming then this film may interest you as well given it comes with a fair amount of propaganda. While I really have not fallen for global warming as some others have, I found this idea to be pretty original for the horror genre. While we get a cool story that I personally have yet to see employed, the film does not take full advantage of the potential it has, and amounts to a mostly positive flick in the end, but nothing great.
The Thaw stars Val Kilmer(Top Gun, The Doors, Heat, The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Ghost and the Darkness, Mindhunters) as Dr. Kruipen, a world renowned scientist in the realm of global warming doing research in the arctic regions of Canada. While studying polar bears he comes across the well-preserved carcass of a whooly mammoth, which despite being a spectacular find proves to be an unlucky discovery. The carcass is harboring a prehistoric parasite that is thawing as quickly as the mammoth is, and comes with deadly consequences for anyone infected. When several members of Dr. Kruipen’s crew are infected, he sees the opportunity to show that had it not been for global warming the mammoth and its parasites would not have surfaced, however things become worse for Dr. Kruipen when his estranged daughter Evelyn(Martha MacIssac; The Last House on the Left remake) and several students of his land at his campsite, providing more ways for the parasite to spread, and putting his daughter in extreme danger.
I really wanted to like this flick, mainly because I feel we do not get enough biology-influenced films in the genre. To make matters worse, the majority of such films tend to underperform and be mediocre at best, such as the Irish film Isolation, although we do get some heavy hitters in this rare sub-genre like Guillermo Del Toro’s Mimic. In other words, I really wanted this one to succeed.
The idea of a scientist finding a woolly mammoth that contains a deadly prehistoric parasite is pretty cool in my opinion, and I enjoyed everything else that went with that. The research team is very isolated given their location, which does not constitute a complete nowhere-to-run scenario given they have means of transportation, but they are far from any sense of civilization, so even with transportation they are far from any potential help. To add to this, these are scientists, and they know the implications they carry with the infection, meaning they know that if they head towards any populated area they can spread the infection, meaning they must wait out their lives in the frozen tundra, ready to die. The conflict continues when Dr. Kruipen’s daughter and co. arrive at the research site, naively exposing themselves to the parasite and suffering the consequences. I personally wished we would have been given some greater parasite action, maybe something involving the parasites taking over the bodies much like we got in Splinter. It is a bit campy, but awesome it would be. We do get some good psychological horror written into the film, and it comes in the form of the social breakdown that occurs when anyone around you could be infected with a highly contagious virus, and to make matters worse you are isolated
Director Mark A. Lewis(Ill Fated) does a mostly positive job delivering this film to us, expertly executed the usage of the parasites and the carnage they physically and psychologically cause. We get mostly live action usage of the parasites, starting from a egg-to-larva level until they eventually consume the entire host’s carcass from the inside out. The idea is awesome, and watching it happen with mostly live-action effects is even more awesome. I also mentioned that we get some good psychological horror in this one, and Mark A. Lewis executes this conflict in mostly positive fashion with fair performances from the actors, especially when we watch the conflict that occurs when those who know they must not be rescued and not spread the infection quarrel with those who care not for the rest of the world and want to be rescued.
Overall, this is a mostly positive watch that comes with a cool story and moderate direction but fails in the end to deliver a superior watch. Fans of biology-influenced horror may find some joy in this watch, especially given we have never seen a horror film employing global warming.