(Courtesy of Lionsgate)
Out Tuesday from Lionsgate is the "Ghost House Underground Collection," four films handpicked by director Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert. The films included in the series are The Thaw, The Children, Seventh Moon and Offspring.
For this review, I singled out The Thaw. It has a major actor (Val Kilmer) as one of the leads, and the story of global warming and its potential effects on the human race were intriguing. It had the capacity, I hoped, to creep me to the bones and at the same time, get a very important message across.
Kilmer stars as renowned environmentalist Dr. David Kruipen, who discovers a woolly mammoth in a melting polar ice cap. What he also discovers could quite possibly put the world itself on the brink of extinction.
Kruipen will soon to be joined by three ecology students Atom (Aaron Ashmore), Frederico (Kyle Schmid) and Ling (Steph Song) and his estranged daughter Evelyn (Martha MacIsaac). But when the trio arrives, they find the outpost vacant except for a rotting polar bear carcass.
When Dr. Jane Sanders (Viv Leacock) wanders back to the post extremely ill, the students realize something malevolent is going on. As two of their own fall ill themselves, the students must decide to stay put and risk certain death or leave a risk a global epidemic.
Believed to be dead, Kruipen finds his way back to the post and when Evelyn begins to put the pieces together, it all adds up to a reality she never fathomed.
Kilmer is far from the leading man he once was, but for audiences that's a good thing. For the past decade he's kept a low profile and put together some fine performances in flicks such as The Salton Sea, Spartan and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.
However, in The Thaw, he simply isn't there. He's able to command the screen when he's on it, but the film probably benefited more from his name being attached than the performance he gave. Kilmer is known for his charity work for organizations such as Global Green and the Wildlife Center of New Mexico, so the subject matter is something I'm sure he believed could get a message across. The film fails to accomplish that.
Stripping away the environmental 'How far would you go?' question, the film really lacks a punch. It definitely has its moments that will have you shaking off the creepy crawlies, but overall it's just not that slick of a flick.
Final Cut: The ending of the film actually had me more excited to see the sequel instead of the original. Some at times fluffy acting, a message that is forced and a "dead" character breathing all add up to a subpar horror movie experience.
2 out of 5 stars
Starring: Val Kilmer, Martha MacIsaac, Aaron Ashmore, Kyle Schmid, Steph Song, Viv Leacock
Director: Mark A Lewis
Writer: Mark A Lewis, Michael Lewis
The Ghost House Underground DVDs are available now from Lionsgate Entertainment