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Wind Chill


Stars: Emily Blunt, Ashton Holmes, Martin Donovan, Ned Bellamy, Ian Wallace, Donny Lucas, Chelan Simmons, Darren Moore, Linden Banks

Director: Greg Jacobs

“Relax”, says Holmes, veering off the freeway. “It’s a short cut. We’ll be back on the highway in no time”. Seasoned shockfilm fans will recognise the line for what it is – a genre cliche. And it doesn’t take long for Holmes and Blunt to be trapped in an eerie nightmare after being forced off the road by a mysterious vehicle and then assailed by assorted spectres. Or are they?

Joe Gangemi and Steven Katz’s spare screenplay (recalling a superior Twilight Zone episode) strikes a good balance between the back story of the paranormal horrors faced by Holmes and Blunt during a long night trapped in a snowbound car in a freezing forest and their terrified reactions to the one-damn-thing-after-another supernatural scares flung at them. Atmosphere is as important as incident and Jacob’s sustained direction makes the most of both.

In an essentially two character movie (America’s most boring actor, Martin Donovan, turns up as a spectral highway patrolman but happily doesn’t dilute the impact), Holmes and, especially, Blunt, with an excellent American accent, excel. She manages to make her change from initially dislikeable (she paints her toenails in the car and ignores Holmes to chatter on her cellphone) to likeable female-in-peril credible and appealing.

The violence and gore are restrained (against the current run of sadistic schlock like Hostel Part II and its ilk) but that's all to the good since it’s still tense, creepy and its several shock scenes effectively make you jump. It’s essentially a B-film, of course, but a well-above-average one. And as an added bonus it features the latest genre cliche – forget the familiar vandalised phone box - here Blunt's cellphone fails to find a signal.

Alan Frank

USA 2007. UK Distributor: Sony. Colour by deluxe.
87 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

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

Review date: 30 Jul 2007