From the endless empty ocean in Open Water, to the dry, doom ridden deserts in Wolf Creek and The Hill’s Have Eyes, from the creepy caves of The Descent to a million fearfests with forest settings – in horror movies, the natural world can be as much of an enemy to the main characters than the psychopaths or creatures that are after them.
Added to the long list of favoured horror film settings is snow. Used in the sublime The Thing, the interesting 30 Day’s of Night and the ridiculous Ice Spiders and Wendigo it provides the writer and director with a whole host of freezing cold and interesting ways to ice you.
In the real world snow means travel chaos, closed schools, snowball fights and slipping on you ass in the street. In horror and in Whiteout, released on DVD this week, it equals millions of miles of vacant ice, temperatures at minus 120 degrees, winds at 100 miles per hour and potential death by stalactite.
Set in the Antarctica, troubled Carrie Stetko (Kate Beckinsale) is coming to the end of her boring and uneventful assignment as U.S Marshal at a research base when she is called out to investigate a murdered body found on the ice.
With long buried secrets from the past unearthed and the even colder, harder, uninhabitable Antarctic winter closing in bringing the deadly whiteout storms Stetko must race to find out who the killer is and more importantly what they are killing for.
More thriller than horror the film follows a path well trodden by many a movie, except this time plotting its path through snow. Although the story and characters are slightly generic, the cast do there best and give solid performances. Beckinsale somehow manages to look hot given the cold climate and Tom Skerritt, who plays the amazingly named tenacious old Dr John Fury, is excellent as always.
What it lacks in plot and story the film does make up for with some impressive cinematography. The amazing, literally breath-taking landscapes are stunningly shot by director Dominic Sena, whose previous credits include the underrated Kalifornia.
Whiteout joins the ever-growing list of horror films attempting to turn winter wonderland into inescapable snowscape full of screams. With blinding snow storms, horrific ice burns, ice axe fights and a tense and inventive chase scene using guide ropes it is an enjoyable film which may not be the most original but is definitely one of the more watchable with some beautiful cinematography.
Just remember to wrap up warm before you watch it or you might feel the cold.