HomeMovies‘Centigrade’ Review: An Unbearable Thriller

‘Centigrade’ Review: An Unbearable Thriller

Centigrade Film Still
Photo Courtesy IFC Midnight

There’s been a string of movies in recent years where people try to survive being stranded in a frozen wasteland. Liam Neeson did it in 2011’s The Grey. Idris Elba and Kate Winslet did it in The Mountain Between Us, Leonardo DiCaprio did it in The Revenant, Mads Mikkelsen did it recently in Arctic, and Sophie Turner just did it for Quibi’s survival show, Survive. Hell, even before The Grey and before Disney utilized the title for an animated musical, there was a horror movie called Frozen, where three people are forced to survive the elements and wolves after they’re stuck on a ski lift. Frankly, I don’t get the appeal of the whole frozen survival setting, but IFC’s newest offering and the feature directorial debut of writer/director Brendan Walsh, Centigrade, makes me understand the appeal even less.

It follows married couple Matt (Vincent Piazza) and Naomi (Genesis Rodriguez) as they go on a trip to Norway for Naomi’s book tour. As they’re traveling, they encounter heavy frozen rain that causes them to end up spending the night on the side of the road until everything clears. However, when they awake, they realize that they are trapped under an immense amount of snow and that there’s no way for them to get the car started or escape. Thus, they’re forced to survive the elements as days to pass and they begin to unravel mentally.

Where Walsh goes right with Centigrade is in creating a strong and daunting environment to show how drastic Matt and Naomi’s situation is. Often times, he cuts to these big, sweeping shots of the snowy exterior that are just absolutely menacing. Although some small parts of the car roof can be seen through the snow, a lot of times, Walsh places the camera far away and its hard not to get chills just imagining the car being buried somewhere in this vast area. It’s honestly like the most frigid game of Where’s Waldo and it’s kind of unsettling. Being inside the car isn’t much better, as Walsh keeps the frame tight and you definitely get some claustrophobic vibes. Personally, having one angle be used the whole time inside the car would have been a little more effective, since cutting to different angles makes it seem more spacious than it should.

Now, while the environments definitely play their part in giving viewers a chiller thriller to sink into, the characters don’t. It’s hard to say point to a more frustrating, annoying, and generally unlikable set of characters than Matt and Naomi. The film literally starts with them already trapped in the car, so there’s no real chance to get to know them, understand their relationship, or maybe see their sweeter sides. We basically only see them bicker and blame each other from the start. If they were initially shown as sweet to one another or at least somewhat loving, them slowly growing annoyed and distraught would give them a more intriguing arc and make seeing them unravel actually hurt. Without this, there’s nothing too unusual about how their acting and the gravity of their situation never truly sinks in.

None of this is Piazza and Rodriguez’s fault, as they definitely appear to be giving it their best effort. They have the same kind of decision-making skills as camp counselors in a slasher movie — especially Naomi. From the way she constantly chastises Matt for being the one who suggested they pull over and wait out the storm to her awful plan to just bust out the windows to try and dig their way out, she’s so overly negative and unhelpful that she becomes hard not to hate. As the film and their bickering go on and on, it’s easy to become totally turned off by Centigrade.

Thus, the film ends up being a major bore that’s tough to connect to even when Walsh tries to throw in some story obstacles towards the end that are meant to make you care more. Rather than create empathy and draw viewers in, the added story obstacles just make you not want to keep watching and don’t add any depth, likability, or care to the characters. Not to mention, the film can’t even save itself from having an incredibly bland ending that unsatisfyingly informs us through text how things ended as well as ties together the true story this film is apparently inspired by—which also doesn’t add anything special to the film. Instead, Centigrade puts viewers into an unbearable viewing experience that makes its characters’ situation seem more tolerable than watching it unfold here.

Centigrade is now available on VOD.

Tom Moore
Tom Moorehttps://mooreviews.com/
Tom is always ready to see and review everything horrifying and hilarious that hits theaters, television, and video games...sometimes. You can check out his other reviews and articles on his blog, Mooreviews.

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