Director – David Hewlett, Screenplay – Craig Engler & Brooks Peck, Producers – Jeffrey Beach & Phillip Roth, Photography – Alexander Krumov, Music – Lisa Mazzotte, Special Effects Supervisor – George Staev, Production Design – Steliyan Steliyanov. Production Company – UFO International Productions
David Chokachi (Jonas), Matthew Kevin Anderson (Jace), Yancy Butler (Villers), David Hewlett (Mills), Laura Haddock (Ashley), James Patric Moran (Ted), Jonas Armstrong (Bill), Rosalind Halstead (Lynda), Atanas Srebrev (Edelman), Emilia Klayn (Laura), Jesse Steele (Walterson), Mike Staub (Hedges), Mark Dymond (Bud)
Jonas and Jace, two brothers who operate as adventurers for hire, are sent to the Canadian Arctic by the billionaire Mills. An archaeological team has located the wreck of an old Chinese ship that contains a valuable codec that Mills seeks. However, this has also served to unleash ferocious Yeren, or Yeti, that were imprisoned aboard the ship. Jonas and Jace join a team that Mills has assembled to capture the Yeren. Arriving, at the Arctic outpost, they quickly find themselves holed up at siege from the ferocious and near-unkillable creatures.
Rage of the Yeti was a formula low-budget monster movie made for the Syfy Channel. UFO International Productions, the production company of director Phillip Roth, has been behind a great many of these films – see titles such as Python (2000), Shark Hunter (2001), Dark Descent (2002), Alien Siege (2005), Locusts: The 8th Plague (2005), Manticore (2005), S.S. Doomtrooper (2006), Reign of the Gargoyles (2007), Copperhead (2008), Ghost Voyage (2008), Arctic Predator (2010) and Triassic Attack (2010), among numerous others
In this case, UFO has handed direction of Rage of the Yeti over to David Hewlett. Hewlett is better known for his work as an actor with director Vincenzo Natali, having appeared in all of his works going right back to Natali’s original short film Elevated (1997), and elsewhere as a regular on tv’s Stargate: Atlantis (2004-9) and a number of B movie appearances, including Scanners II: The New Order (1990) and UFO’s previous Boa vs Python (2004). Hewlett made his directorial debut with the murderous black comedy A Dog’s Breakfast (2007) and subsequently went on to direct Debug (2014) about an amok AI.
Rage of the Yeti quickly emerges as another typical Syfy Channel monster movie. The Yeti look like cheaply rendered digital effects and have been given a huge mouthful of ferocious looking fangs and a prehensile look. It is a film where you feel like all exposition getting in the way of serial Yeti attack scenes has been stripped from the script – it is a long way in before we actually get any explanation of the situation we are in and what the Yeti/Yeren are doing in the Canadian Arctic. Things seem to happen but you are never sure why they do or what the characters are trying to achieve.
After opening on a ferocious fight with the Yeti in the Arctic snows, the film takes a major nosedive after it introduces its two heroes, David Chokachi and Matthew Kevin Anderson. The two seem to have been chosen for their ability to look good on a surfboard/set of skis more than anything else. From their opening scene where an armed standoff in a museum is constantly interrupted by their flip banter and ends when the other men hand them a phone call from their leader, the two are played as jerkoffs. They seem to take nothing in the film seriously, jumping into every action scene with the attitude of strung-out skateboarders, and become the film’s major minus point. You keep asking yourself, are these two idiots, who seem more interested in seeking thrills and indifferent to whether any solution they try might work, the sort of people you would want to lead you out of a children’s playground let alone would entrust with your life when surrounded by ferocious wild beasts?
Clearly, David Hewlett is not taking the show seriously – even the performance he gives as the mad billionaire financing it all seems driven by the same cocky carefree attitude. You sort of feel that Hewlett came to this as an inherited project and decided to play the show unseriously to show the material was beneath him. Occasionally, this is amusing – like the tongue-in-cheek tv commercial for big guns replete with girls in bikinis. Still, in its own preposterous way, Rage of the Yeti eventually starts to work once it gets the characters trapped in the Arctic station, fighting together and trying to enact various preposterous means of capturing a Yeti. There it at least proves not exactly a good film but at least one with sufficiently more energy than the usual Syfy Channel monster movie.
(Dedicated to The Peanut Gallery, my viewing companion, who wants it known that among all the Yeti she has known, these don’t look like real Yeti)