The film opens with a home video recording of Val Kilmer as Doctor David Kruipen rambling on about ‘sacrifice’ and ‘making a difference’ and how he’s ‘rediscovered what that all means’
Cut to a shot of a bug-like parasite crawling in and out of the forehead of a woman we’ll soon know as Jane… Cut to an opening titles mash-up of bugs, parasites, riots and politicians gesticulating to a voice over about global warming.
These guys are a research team in the Canadian Arctic. They tranquilise a polar bear for no apparent reason and lament that it has no food as the ice has receded. They then discover that the bear was chewing on a half buried carcass of a mammoth, exposed by the aforementioned receding ice… in case you missed it, global warming dude!
Val’s estranged daughter Evelyn and 3 research students, Adam, Freddie and Lin head on up by helicopter to the research station only to find it empty… and it smells, of the now dead rotting polar bear. Ben the helicopter pilot poses for a photograph with the bear and is bitten by what they all think is a flea…
Back to the field, Jane shoots Val before driving back to the helicopter where she’s discovered by Evelyn. Meanwhile Lin, has been bitten all over by ‘fleas’.
Jane is now spewing what looks like diarrhoea and Evelyn is just stopped by Ben before she tries to give Jane mouth-to-mouth! And she’s the smart one! Jane dies. They discover that Jane wasn’t trying to leave in the helicopter but was disabling it, stranding everyone there. Freddie who has a ‘phobia’ of bugs starts to freak out… uh-oh, this can’t end well…
By now Evelyn has worked out what’s going on, she decides to quarantine the base. Freddie’s not happy about this and freaks out some more, he sweats a lot and shoots the radio.
Their idea of quarantine isn’t so good, they put Jane’s body in a sealed room with the bear, good; but leave Lin, who’s now crawling with bugs, in an unlocked room next door. And poor Ben, who was bitten first is wandering around with bugs in his arm… he has a solution though, chop it off. This admittedly is the best scene in the movie and handled quite well.
After that there’s more running around, Freddie sweats some more, Adam is protests about Freddie’s behaviour and Evelyn decides to burn the facility and wait for the helicopter to arrive… But there’s more…
Basically ‘The Thaw’ isn’t all bad. It really wants to be ‘The Thing’ which it clearly isn’t, or ‘Slither, or even ‘Splinter’ but it’s not as good as any of those. Admittedly it looks like it was shot on a much lower budget than those movies however the isolation isn’t believable, the characters are wandering around as if there’s a chill in the air rather than acting as if in the Arctic. The bugs are done quite well for CG in a horror film apart from one scene where they’re swarming over the carcass of the bear.
The eco-threat is very heavy handed and rather than adding to the film feels more of a distraction. The director, Mark A. Lewis, hits us over the head with this shit, we get it dude, global warming is bad; just concentrate on building the suspense and getting better performances out of your actors and you’d make a better movie.
It could have been much better, a good idea wasted.
Quality: 2 out of 5 stars
Is it fun, suspenseful, worth watching… 2 out of 5 stars.