THE CHILL FACTOR / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: CHRISTOPHER WEBSTER / SCREENPLAY: JULIAN WEAVER / STARRING: DAWN LAURIE, AARON KJENAAS, CONNIE SNYDER, DAVID FIELDS, EVE MONTGOMERY / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Exhumed from utter obscurity (the film received a perfunctory VHS release, blandly retitled Demon Possessed) and presented in a typically lovingly-restored and well-supported Blu-ray edition by Arrow, The Chill Factor is an odd, curious, lumpen supernatural slasher torpedoed by iffy acting (who are these people?), shonky production and a tone that veers and zigzags as much as the snowmobiles in the well-staged chase sequence towards the end of the movie’s mercifully brief 80-odd minute runtime.
A motley group of young couples are enjoying a snowmobiling trip, but an ill-advised race between the group’s two Alpha Males turns into a nightmare when one of the oafs is thrown from his machine and knocked unconscious. In one of many “Why are you doing this exactly?” moments that pepper the film, the rest of the group decide to take refuge in a nearby remote cabin which, they discover, is filled with arcane religious artefacts. Despite the threat of a snowstorm, one of their number decides to travel to get help even as the injured Tom wakes up, dazed, disorientated and seriously injured. Naturally enough, the rest of the group decide to fool around with a ouija board with inevitable consequences; they awaken an evil, possessive spirit which stalked and terrorised the cabin years earlier when it became a hastily-abandoned Christian camp.
The Chill Factor is all over the place, aiming for as many horror movie targets as it can and, more often than not, completely missing the mark. An intriguing introduction toys clumsily with issues of racism and macho aggression and there are some peculiar hints at an incestuous relationship between two of the characters which never amount to anything at all as the film becomes engrossed in its half-baked supernatural trappings. The séance awakens a spirit, a robed, creepy-looking shadowy figure who embarks on an irritatingly anodyne killing spree (the camera continually turns way from the gore and guts we might have paid to see – although one sequence involving an icicle and an eyeball does the trick) before reanimating the dead and turning them into crazed - if rather aimless - zombies. The film’s structure is underpinned by an awkward narration from the point of view of one of the characters who survived the ordeal, but the voiceover is confusing and unconvincing and appears to be an afterthought in an attempt to make sense of muddy, shambolic storytelling.
Filmed in 1989 and only seeing the light of day, however briefly, in 1993, The Chill Factor is eminently missable, memorable only for its wintry Wisconsin landscape and a few adrenalised, nicely-filmed snowmobile sequences which give the movie a sense of scale that the dimly-lit interiors utterly squander. Cold comfort, then, for anyone who takes a punt on this frosty farrago sight unseen. The Chill Factor is, largely, a load of snow balls.
Special features: Commentary, make-up artist interview, production manager interview, stunt co-ordinator interview, stills gallery, booklet