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Stars: Eric Bana, Olivia Wilde, Charlie Hunnam, Kate Mara, Kris Kristofferson, Sissy Spacek, Treat Williams

Director: Stefan Ruzowitsky

Tempting to re-title this one Dreadful; things, though, have started well enough, like one of those bleak old black-and-white Hollywood movies where all the characters are stuck in a blizzard - although the snow here is obviously computerised and rarely touches the people it's supposed to be falling upon.

It's a grim tale, which is fair enough, but all too soon its plot collapses under the weight of a truly terrible screenplay. Tough-talking dialogue swiftly becomes good for little more than a giggle, culminating in a riotous climax, as practically the entire cast is held to ransom in a remote snowbound cottage by a killer (Bana with a bizarre Alabaman/Australian accent) on the run.

He and his sister (Wilde) are escaping with the (considerable) loot from a casino heist, when their car crashes on the ice, killing their confederate. Miraculously surviving unscathed, they head off in opposite directions (!), after Bana kills a state trooper and steals his car. Bana then dispatches a lone hunter, who cuts off his finger before dying; he steals the victim's snowmobile, but not the first thing you'd think he'd need in freezing conditions - the dead man's gloves.

Meanwhile, Wilde hooks up with Jay (Hunnam), an ex-con also on the run after accidentally killing the man he holds responsible for his imprisonment. Jay's the son of retired sheriff Kristofferson and his wife (Spacek), who happen to live in the cottage where it all ends.

Credibility here is further undermined by the ludicrous character of the local police chief, over-acted by Williams), who lays into his trooper daughter (Mara) all the time, even after she's wounded the fugitive robber. 'I told you to stay at the station,' he yells, quite unreasonably as she's been called out. 'When you're around, someone always ends up dead'. (Bana has just blasted another trooper). 'And where's Travis?' The ridiculously MCP Travis is, of course, also dead: cue hoots from the audience.

Not even the still-adorable Spacek can do anything with this one, reduced as she she is to making (a choice of) Thanksgiving pies for the killer's dinner in a quite demented scene at the end.

David Quinlan

USA 2013. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers (StudioCanal). Colour (unspecified).
94 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 06 May 2013