Hypothermia (2011) poster

Hypothermia (2011)


USA. 2011.


Director/Screenplay – James Felix McKenney, Producers – Derek Curl, Larry Fessenden, Brent Kunkle & Peter Phok, Photography – Eric Branco, Music – Sean Eden, Visual Effects – Neal Jonas, Creature Effects – Gaslight Studios (Designer – Chris Bridges), Makeup Effects – Brian Spears, Production Design – Laree Love. Production Company – Glass Eye Pix/Monsterpants/Offhollywood Pictures.


Michael Rooker (Ray Pelletier), Don Wood (Steve Cote), Blanche Baker (Helen Pelletier), Ben Forster (David Pelletier), Amy Chang (Gina), Greg Finley (Steve Cote Jr), Asa Liebmann (The Monster)


Ray Pelletier gets away to his lakeside cabin with his wife Helen, son David and David’s girlfriend Gina. They go ice fishing on the frozen-over lake. Their sojourn is interrupted by Steve Cole and his son Steve Jr who set up a caravan to go fishing not far away from them. Steve proves friendly and draws them in as he decides to hunt a large fish beneath the surface of the ice. However, this proves to be something altogether larger and more deadly that proceeds to attack the rest of them.

Glass Eye Pix is a company that was set up by Larry Fessenden, the director of Habit (1997), Wendigo (2001), The Last Winter (2006), Beneath (2013) and Depraved (2019). Glass Eye Pix has become an increasingly underrated presence in the horror field since the mid-2000s with films such as Zombie Honeymoon (2004), The Roost (2005), Trigger Man (2007), I Can See You (2008), I Sell the Dead (2008), The House of the Devil (2009), Bitter Feast (2010), Stake Land (2010), The Innkeepers (2011), Late Phases (2014), Darling (2015), Most Beautiful Island (2017), Psychopaths (2017) and The Ranger (2018). Larry Fessenden likes to make acting appearances in most of the films – he can be briefly seen here on a video clip as a fishing instructor.

Hypothermia was the fifth film from director James Felix McKenney, McKenny first appeared with CanniBalistic (2002) and then made a string of films with Glass Eye with The Off Season (2004), Automatons (2006), Satan Hates You (2010) and then Hypothermia. Hypothermia happens to also have been McKenney’s last film to date.

James Felix McKenney makes a minimalist horror film. A cast of six, the locale centred around 100 or so square feet of a frozen-over lake, a monster that is seen more by its shadowy presence than any actual appearance. All solid possibilities for a horror film. And Hypothermia sets in in promising ways with McKenney making a solid effort with characters.

Greg Finley, Amy Chang, Michael Rooker and Ben Foster in Hypothermia (2011)
(l to r) Greg Finley, Amy Chang, Michael Rooker and Ben Foster examine what lurk under the ice

In the acting roles, there is Michael Rooker who has been a genre regular since Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986), usually cast as thugs and psychopathic bullies. Here for once he plays a decent ordinary family guy. He’s the only major name the film has. Rooker however has much of the show stolen out from under him by the entertainingly gregarious Don Wood as the other fisherman who sets up in the area with his son and then develops a fanatical obsession with killing the creature.

When McKenney keeps the creature beneath the ice, he does well. The monster is something shadowy, only seen in terms of a shape moving beneath the ice. It could almost be a Tremors (1990), albeit one that substitutes the desert terrain for a frozen-over river. On the other hand, the film loses a whole lot of credibility when we do get to finally see the creature, albeit only briefly. In the first solid glimpse of its humanoid form it look rather ridiculously like someone in a black diving suit wearing bright yellow goggles. In its subsequent appearance, the creature’s appearance fatally kills the film’s believability and it never recovers.

Trailer here

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