San Diego Asian Film Festival 2012 — Below Zero

belowzero

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio: Twilight Pictures

MPAA Rating: R

Director: Justin Thomas Ostensen

Review Rating: 7

A formerly popular screenwriter suffering writers block, locks himself into a meat cooler to be alone with his inspiration, but the lines between fantasy and reality begin to blur as the temperature drops!

The film actually has a fairly nifty premise: the freezer, the ‘hack’ writer, miles of nothing around, and nothing in there but a laptop and his own inspiration. The trouble is, despite the main character being Edward Furlong’s Jack, and Frank the script character too, as soon as Jack is locked in and we the audience think he’s begun writing, the whole thing runs together less than smoothly. The stories Jack’s trying to write are presented in sliced vignettes, interrupted with other slices of what we think could be reality, but really it’s hard to tell for sure. It’s entirely possible that that was the whole point, but the whole “making a movie about how hard it is to make a movie, inside the movie” storyline gets on my nerves. The same storyline swirling about in attempted psychedelic horror circles, with only the slightest variations on the same theme, are tired.

A small number of actors grace the screen: Furlong as main Jack, Kristin Booth as hostess Penny, Michael Berryman as potential butcher Gunnar, Michael Eisner as friend Morty, and there’s a little boy who never got a name because he never spoke, I can only assume he’s Sadie Madu. His mute character is pivotal to the whole letting the audience know this isn’t real life thing, and yet they’re prepared to write him out of the whole movie nearing the end anyways. Jack goes round and round, sometimes getting help from another source, sometimes screaming in his own head, sometimes desperately writing in whatever he can literally get his hands on when his laptop dies, and yet. It turns out in the end that Jack really is a hack, for in the end, after all that mess, all Jack really learned was how to steal another persons idea and cover his tracks. Not bad for a horror jaunt, but instead of trying for the Saw “gotcha!” in the middle of each vignette, how about finding your own pace for a horror movie? We the audience love original creativity.

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