Chill (2007) DVD Review
Dir: Serge Rodnunsky 88 mins.
Available on DVD now
Every once in a while, a very special film comes along, to remind those of us who’ve obsessed over horror throughout our lives, that it is really worth our time – that it’s brilliant, inventive, awe-inspiring and unlike any other genre.
Chill is not one of those films. In fact, it’s so dreadful that it’s an insult to even call it ‘horror’.
Though it claims to be based on a short story by the great H.P. Lovecraft, the stupidly convoluted, yet easily unravelled, premise involves a rundown convenience store, a mysterious, pale man who lives in what is basically a freezer, and a down-on-his-luck writer who only seems to own one outfit.
Due to some mind-numbingly bad direction and cinematography – seriously, the first season of Mega 64 looked better than this, and they didn’t have half the budget – it’s increasingly difficult to follow what’s going on or where anything, or anyone, is.
The first kill involves a man running from street to street, presumably in a circle, until he is inevitably caught by a bloodied man with a hook who seems to have found and captured him without really trying at all, and it only gets worse from there.
Much of the action takes place in the convenience store, along with a clothes shop somewhere in its vicinity, which is run, funnily enough, by Ashley Laurence, of Hellraiser fame, but even she doesn’t seem invested in a job she clearly took just so she could eat. Thomas Calabro does his best with a muddled, uninspired script, while Shaun Kurtz (also the executive producer) takes the supposed villain role, though he utterly fails to induce any fear.
Looking like Michael Sheen in the Twilight series, only not nearly as fun, while doing possibly the worst Dracula impression ever committed to celluloid, as a man who is quite obviously a member of the living dead (or maybe he’s just a shit actor), Kurtz’s Dr. Munoz should be a tortured anti-hero but, in his incapable hands, he’s reduced to a one-dimensional sort-of zombie who would be more interesting if he was shouting “Brains!”, or rather “Skin!”, at every opportunity.
Overall, the acting is terribly over the top, meaning absolutely nothing rings true, which wouldn’t be quite so problematic if the story weren’t as far-fetched, or if there was any sense of dread or tension. The film also boasts the most honking, intrusive, overriding score conceivable. It’s so invasive, it almost seems as though it’s purposefully over the top, perhaps to mask everything else that’s happening onscreen.
Though Chill is sold as a “classic retro horror thriller”, it takes inspiration from more recent torture porn releases, such as Saw and Hostel but, instead of either establishing enough tension that it doesn’t matter how much is shown, or turning the gore up to eleven, it tries to do both and ends up accomplishing neither.
It’s possible to turn a small budget into magic onscreen, but Chill is so lazy that everything is half-assed, even the gore. There’s some embarrassing CGI towards the end that suggests perhaps there were bigger ideas at play here, but it’s not even good enough that it’s laughable.
Chill is everything that is wrong with horror as a genre. It’s lazy, derivative, incredibly boring, muddled, nonsensical and not in the least bit scary. Exposition-heavy flashbacks are used to establish a backstory that is so dull, that it’s amazing anybody considered it clever. There is also a bizarre over-reliance on slow-motion, for no apparent reason.
This is a lesson in how not to make a horror film. It will infuriate fans and filmmakers alike. It is completely devoid of tension, atmosphere or scares. Even the gore and tits fall flat, which is embarrassing considering the success of B-movie style romps such as Piranha 3D, which at least had a sense of humour – something else of which Chill is in serious need.
Avoid at all costs, unless in the mood for some serious punishment (and not the fun kind).