Wind Chill 2007 is a disappointing wintry horror with little to make you care about what happens to the characters, writes KATE INGLEBY-PARYLO
Title: Wind Chill
Year Released: 2007
DIRECTOR: Gregory Jacobs
CAST: Emily Blunt, Ashton Holmes, Martin Donovan, Ned Bellamy and Chelan Simmons
Review of Wind Chill 2007
Going home for the holidays, a young college girl gets a lift from another student. Unknown to them, the drive home will be a long and dangerous one as they will soon find themselves having to deal with more than just the usual travel inconveniences. With a promising premise, Wind Chill quickly melts away its own potential through dumbed-down characters and convenient plot points.
What is a British film? Is it a film set in Britain? British characters? British cast and crew? It’s a difficult distinction to make. To some, a British film might include a number of British cultural elements. To others, it might be a film that was financed by or involved a British production company. One such film is 2007’s Wind Chill starring the British actress Emily Blunt and American actor Ashton Holmes. Despite the American setting, Wind Chill was produced by the British production company Blueprint Pictures.
The film opens with a college girl preparing to rideshare home with a male student. Throughout the film, we never learn the characters’ names and even on the credits they’re just called Girl and Guy. In fact, no one in the film has a name. They are just named what they are. A Clerk, Stranger, Snowplow Driver. This is just one of the many strange things about this film.
Immediately we are presented with the contrast of Girl and Guy. Girl is uptight, difficult, but reliable. Guy is anxious, thoughtful and bland. The tension between them can be felt as deeply as the cold atmosphere. Both Emily Blunt and Ashton Holmes deliver great performances and some vulnerabilities to their characters. Even at their worst, each character is engaging enough to hold attention. The atmosphere created is almost unmatched. The shots of the snow and the setting of the cold works perfectly with a supernatural road horror film. The characters themselves effortlessly fit into this atmosphere and the world created.
It’s not long before Girl realises that Guy might have ulterior motives for driving her home, as the pair soon find themselves trapped alone in the cold after crashing the car. Not long after, supernatural occurrences begin and so do more of the film’s issues.
Fundamentally this is supposed to be a chilling ghost story, and whilst the film feels cold, it’s not because of the ghostly presence. Like with some of the characters, the film can be creepy, but not scary. The idea of being stuck on a snowy road in the middle of the night, surrounded by hostile ghosts is unnerving, but it’s not that scary when you remember there is a gas station close by.
To the film’s credit, we don’t actually know the distance to the gas station, or if the characters could make it there without freezing, but because this isn’t fully explored it does make the film frustrating to watch. It’s loose plot points like this, which weigh the film down. Too often the characters make dumb decisions because of the plot demands.
Whilst the characters of Girl and Guy are interesting to follow, a lot of their behaviour, especially from Girl, doesn’t feel believable. After Girl learns something about Guy and his motivations, it soon becomes apparent that they’re in this situation because of him. Even though he isn’t the direct cause of the supernatural happenings, it’s difficult to believe that Girl is so forgiving of him considering it was his actions that have led them to be in life-threatening danger. But, because the plot needs it, she acts accordingly and even helps to warm his finger by placing them near her stomach.
At times the film also relieves heavily on clichés to get scares. When the characters stop at the gas station, Girl gets locked in the toilet. This is supposed to be scary and unnerving, instead, it’s tirelessly overdone and doesn’t serve the plot. If this scene was cut, it wouldn’t make a difference as it ultimately doesn’t matter. Generally, films with the tightest storylines and more engaging plots are structured in a way that all the scenes are tied together. If one scene is removed, it’s often like pulling a thread and undoing multiple storylines. Unfortunately for Wind Chill, this lesson was clearly never learnt, leading to frequently feeling underwhelming.
Over the year’s audiences have given Wind Chill very average reviews with some praising the film on the atmosphere and others criticising its disappointing ending. Whilst the film does manage to maintain its winter atmosphere, it too often shatters the illusion of cinema. You know it’s a film. As you keep watching, you still know it’s a film. By the end, it’s still only a film.
The unfortunate character actions and plot conveniences make it difficult to become invested or believe in the story being told. It might still be worth a watch if you’re a fan of the atmosphere, however, this horror film is more comforting than scary. Regardless of its connection to a British production company, I don’t think any country will be desperate to take ownership of it.
Wind Chill is widely available with multiple UK physical releases and options to rent it digitally. If you are looking to purchase the film physically, I would recommend the triple DVD pack which includes Shrooms (2007), and Dead Silence (2007), as this is usually found for the same or cheaper price as the single edition of Wind Chill.
Have you seen Wind Chill 2007? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!