The Horror Honeys: The Friendzone is the Coldest Place of All...

The Friendzone is the Coldest Place of All...

A Sci-Fi Honey Holiday Horror Review by Katie

Wind Chill (2007)

Hey college kids: it’s almost time for winter break, that magical lapse in your studies when you can head home for a week or two and enjoy the warmth and comforts of the familial home of your youth. But before you can exploit the perks of free laundry and home-cooked meals, you have to find a way to get there – and if you’re adventurous enough to share a ride, let’s hope you know who is really behind the wheel. For the female protagonist in 2007’s Wind Chill, a scrap of paper from the campus Ride Board kicks off a perilous trek where she’ll do battle with Mother Nature and humans both living and long since departed. As a cautionary-tale-turned-supernatural-fable, Wind Chill warns against placing your trust in complete strangers before it takes a jarring detour into an old-fashioned Christmas ghost story.

Before she captured our hearts as a Full Metal Bitch, Emily Blunt harnessed her icy disposition for Wind Chill’s lead role: an unnamed coed making the wintry journey from her college campus to her family home in Delaware. A guy who just happens to be headed the same way (Ashton Holmes) rolls up like a knight in junkyard-scrap armor, his beat-up ride falling apart at the seams and crammed with various possessions after being kicked out of his apartment. Though there’s enough about this scenario that would give anyone pause before accepting a ride with a complete stranger, Blunt accepts his offer and off they venture into the snowy beyond. Several hours and many awkward conversations later, the two find themselves stranded on an isolated road contending with the usual horror movie clichés: a leaking gas tank, shoddy cell phone reception, a lack of food, and a rapidly descending temperature. Oh, and vengeful ghosts. Of course.

Ghosts who are really inappropriately dressed for the winter.
Before Wind Chill careens off the path completely from where it began, the film focuses on a lot of real-life horrors, which it plays up for the first half. Blunt claims to not know who Holmes’ character is, but he insists they had a class together. He then gradually admits to knowing certain other things about her: her favorite foods, where her family lives, and how pretty she looks with her glasses on – glasses that she says she only wears inside her dorm. Blunt’s character comes off as callous and antisocial, addressing his “creeper” vibe when he finally admits his long-distance affection for her, instead of being swept off her feet by his underhanded plan to get her alone with him. When the guy detours from the main highway onto a remote country road – a journey he claims to have made a thousand times, but suspiciously asks a gas station attendant for directions along the way – all bets are off. Girl, you’re about to get murdered in the woods by a dangerously infatuated guy who’s been stalking you all semester.

Being stranded in the middle of nowhere with a guy who’s made his fanatical intentions known is enough to elicit genuine horror, especially for the female of the species in the audience. That’s why it’s so confounding when Wind Chill decides to become something else entirely, and introduces a paranormal subplot into the mix. After being run off the road by a car that vanishes as mysteriously as it appeared, both the guy and girl are injured and trapped in a bone-chilling winter storm. Ghostly figures roam up and down the road, some trying to make contact, some attempting to murder them to the soundtrack of Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” Why did any of this need to happen? Blunt was screwed the minute she got into the guy’s car, and didn’t need any help from the underworld to feel frightened in this situation. It’s a tacked-on maneuver that turns Wind Chill into a formulaic ghost story, when the filmmakers had everything at their disposal to craft the film into a taut and terrifying survivalist tale.

The Full Metal Bitch would’ve just knocked him out.
The worst sin of all in a film that’s full of them by the final act is the last-ditch attempt at turning the guy into a sympathetic character, and making Blunt’s character seem insensitive in her initial treatment of him. The ‘Friendzone’ is a mythical place that many men claim to find themselves when their advances are rebuffed by women who want to remain friends; yet in this case, these two weren’t even friends to begin with. Everything he does before getting them stranded in snowy ghost-land is fueled by a lie or manipulation intended to make Blunt return his affections, and yet he’s bewildered when his actions are seen as threatening rather than endearing. By film’s end, the writers have Blunt cozying up to the guy and even giving him a redemptive opportunity to save the day. Maybe her heart was somehow getting warmer as the frostbite was setting in.

Isn’t this romantic?
If Wind Chill had expanded on the real-life road trip horrors introduced in the first half of the film and had Blunt’s character facing off against a maniac whose puppy love had pushed him over the edge, it could’ve been an intense psychological thriller. Conversely, the palpable iciness of the harsh winter environment and the eerie presence of those killed on that stretch of road would make a chilling feature-length urban legend horror. The film instead tries to take both routes, and ends up on a collision course with itself. Whether you’re seeking thrills based in real life or the afterlife this holiday season, Wind Chill is bound to leave you cold.

Sci-Fi Honey Rating: Two-and-a-half haunted Friendzones out of five.

Wind Chill is available via iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube VOD, Vudu, Google Play, & DVD

Would you go on a road trip with the Full Metal Bitch?
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