How will the end come? Will a two thousand mega tonne meteorite come plummeting toward us from the sky? Will we all be submerged in an ocean of water from an overflowing sea? Or perhaps a prehistoric parasite embedded within the brain of a frozen woolly mammoth will thaw out and find its way into the open wound of an unsuspecting homosapien? Either way we’re pretty much doomed for eventual elimination considering the way we’ve all subjected our earth’s atmosphere to decades of deadly chemical abuse and environmental mistreatment. More importantly from The Thaw’s point of view we deserve every nasty bit that’s coming to us, not to mention the worst case of bedbugs we’re ever likely to experience.
At a remote Arctic research station, four university students are called upon to perform volunteer research for renowned scientist Dr Kruipen (Val Kilmer) - an advocate for global warming awareness. However, soon after the students arrive they come face to face with what could be the most terrifying symptom of earth’s demise yet: a rapidly defrosting primordial organism intent on infecting them all and the rest of the world in the process. Can the students find it within themselves to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to save the greater populous from imminent destruction?
Almost from its opening scene the parallel’s to John Carpenter’s The Thing are made glaringly obvious, albeit nowhere near as effective in this by-the-numbers infection flick. The uninteresting characterizations, copious lapses in logic and the often laugh-out-loud actions of the students arguably make The Thaw come across more like a made-for-TV movie masquerading as a morality tale than anything remotely sophisticated in the annals of sci-fi/horror cinema. Even though the film may have its heart in the right place with regard to its environmentally conscious mindset, it can’t escape the inherent absurdities entrenched within director Mark A. Lewis and Michael W. Lewis’ screenplay, those of which continually undermine the potential sincerity of the movie’s greater message. If the nonsensical creature feature theatrics were downplayed in favor of a more plausible decimation of human faith then perhaps ‘the point’ would have resonated more effectively.
Equally as ineffective in communicating The Thaw’s MO is the character of Dr Kruipen, played by none other than the increasingly industry-rejected Val Kilmer. At first Kruipen appears as if he will be the driving force behind the story, delivering earnest public service announcements, leading the discovery party and instigating the student research project in the first place. However, after a sudden gunshot wound to the chest at minute twenty-eight he simply disappears for the entire second act before conveniently reappearing in time for the film’s climax forty-five minutes later (!). Say what you will about his middling performance but the man clearly deserves better than what he got in a character that brings new meaning to the word ‘afterthought’.
When all is said and done The Thaw simply can’t help but fall victim to its painfully formulaic biohazard movie trappings, let alone articulate a message of significant importance and have it resonate after the end credits. Still, I gotta give the filmmakers credit for at least one awesomely effective scene: having a character attempt to kill a thousand-plus old insect with a can of bug spray. Now THAT’S quick thinking.
Dir: Mark A. Lewis
Writer: Mark A. Lewis and Michael W. Lewis
Cast: Val Kilmer, Martha Macisaac, Aaron Ashmore, Kyle Schmid
Run Time: 90mins