Wind Chill

When I first saw “Wind Chill,” I was left utterly wowed. Even now, the film still resonates in me. I was originally drawn to the movie because it starred Ashton Holmes (the son from “A History of Violence”) and was said to be more of a character study than a straight up horror film. Knowing that Holmes is an excellent actor and being a huge fan of character studies, I hoped for the best. Even prior to pressing “play” on my DVD player, I had a feeling my expectations were going to be slightly let down. Amazingly, this movie went above and beyond anything I expected and when it was over, I was literally left saddened by the emotional and dramatic impact that this horror film had on me. “Wind Chill” and its two lead characters reminded me of how lonely life can sometimes be, how far we go to isolate ourselves from others, or to even take the chance to get to truly know someone. Leave it to the horror genre to make my heart skip a beat.

The two lead characters I speak of are actors Ashton Holmes and Emily Blunt (who are simply credited as Guy and Girl in the credits), two college students who are sharing a ride home for the holidays. Blunt’s character finds a posting on the campus’ rideshare board that’s heading straight in her direction. Desperate for a ride, she answers the ad where she meets Holmes’ character. Holmes seems like a well-meaning shy guy, whereas Blunt is more of a stand-offish and easily bothered girl. The two immediately get off to an awkward start when she sees that Holmes’ car isn’t exactly a fancy ride, not to mention that the passenger window doesn’t roll all the way up and her door sticks. The long ride doesn’t seem to go so well either, with Holmes attempting to make small talk to Blunt, who is busy talking on her cell phone and openly stating how boring the ride is. Several more instances of awkward tension finally lead Blunt to pry into Holmes’ life and his motives for driving her home, which have now become very unclear. Frustrated, Holmes’ takes a scenic route despite Blunt’s protests and the two are soon involved in a hit and run, leaving them stranded against a snow bank. Though Blunt’s character is still furious and untrustworthy of Holmes, the two have to soon learn how to manage together as night falls, a blizzard awakens, and the tortured ghosts of people who have died on the same road start to come out of the woods.

Though my above explanation of the storyline only mentions ghosts once in the final sentence, I feel that’s very important to stress something to you potential viewers out there. This isn’t a straight up ghost story. It’s a character study more than anything else and the ghost story serves as a subplot to accompany the already established themes of trust and relationships. Whereas a lesser film could have done the reverse, “Wind Chill” succeeds in choosing to develop two surprisingly detailed characters that are trying to adapt to a horrible situation instead of just focusing on two brainless kids running from ghosts for 90 minutes.

Anyone who truly appreciates the genre will be pleased by the film’s balance of scares and characterization. There are some great special FX provided for the ghosts, some very tense and atmospheric scenes, as well as a few successful jump-scares to keep the horror hounds sated.

Despite all of this, it’s still the lead actors and character development that kept me glued to the screen. Both Holmes and Blunt turn in flawless performances and shed layers of depth and personality by the minute. When the film is over, you actually feel like you were stranded with our protagonists all along, investing emotion and trust into their characters and trying to better understand who they are. When “Wind Chill” comes to its close, I hope that you’ll feel as emotionally lost and uncertain as the final shot seems to express. If you’re anything like me, you’ll get the chills.

(Ed. Note: This is without a doubt one of my favorite films of the year. I highly recommend it to anyone who’s not a dumbshit with the attention span of Leatherface.)

The Hidden Message: If horror movies involving road trips have taught us anything…STAY ON THE INTERSTATE!

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~ by exploitnation on April 24, 2008.

3 Responses to “Wind Chill”

  1. just yesterday i was trying to remember the name of this movie, man.

    it was really haunting my thoughts, and all i could get was a vague apparition as to the name of it.

    geomagnetic activity.

  2. yuk yuk. ask me, dummy. save the puns for a rainy day.

  3. I really, really liked this one, too. I thought that Martin Donovan did a great job in this one, too. The scene when the ghosts first appeared were particularly spooky. It´s refreshing to see something this good based on original material, instead of remakes. A great film!

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