This review is of the TV-14 edited version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative
This is one of those films where I can’t say I was super hyped for it but it still managed to go below my expectations. There are really two ways this film could go. The human villain route where the guy driving the main character is a creep or the supernatural route. I would pretty much always choose the supernatural route but this film shows that sometimes you can still mess that one up too.
Gotta admit that I didn’t even notice that none of the characters had names until I looked it up. It’s a pretty interesting tactic for sure since it lets you just jump right into the story. Would have been cool if I noticed this right away but it just be like that sometimes.
So the main girl is looking for a rideshare to save some money and fortunately there is a guy driving to her destination. This is about as lucky as she can get and so they get into the car but she rebuffs all of his efforts to talk to her. She wants to be an unruly passenger and even insults him while they’re driving so now he feels sad. Eventually they crash when trying to dodge another car and now they’re stranded in the middle of nowhere in sub zero conditions. Definitely not the way you want to go out. Can they survive the night if they stay in the car or should they take their chances and try going back to the gas station?
This film loves its red herrings and making everyone look suspicious. Trust me on that one, we’ve got everything except the villainous smirk that a lot of suspects tend to have. There is just a whole collection of issues here so it’s hard to know where to start. I guess I’ll start with the characters not being very likable at all.
First up there’s the girl who has a bad attitude from the jump. First of all she’s the one who is late to the meetup spot so I don’t see where she gets off being so upset at the guy. She insults his car for no real reason and is just extremely rude. The girl doesn’t really get better until the end and even then it’s a life or death situation by that point so just about anyone would be a little nicer when their life depends on it.
I totally get her being hostile once he took them off on a shady shortcut and crashed the car. From there on out it makes sense to treat him like an enemy 100%. He does nothing to make you feel like you can trust him and only actively makes himself look less and less honorable.
Now for the guy, yeah he’s pretty bad too. For starters, driving off the road to a shady shortcut with no good explanation is naturally going to turn the girl against him. He should have realized that, it’s just patently obvious. The road didn’t look good from the start either. So he was doing this to impress her but there are better ways of doing it.
Then there’s also the fact that he acts a bit like a stalker. He knows pretty much everything about her and followed her around so he would learn about her schedule and be there to be carpool buddies. It shouldn’t have even been hard to keep this a secret but naturally he says things that he shouldn’t know and so she gets tipped off. If this guy is trying to start off with a good impression then he absolutely failed here.
The tension of if the guy is a super crook is definitely intense even if it isn’t quite my favorite scenario here at all. So then we get to the supernatural elements but that’s where the film really falls off of a cliff. So you’ve got an early instance of this where the ghosts lock the girl in the bathroom and turn off the sound so she can’t yell for help. Or more specifically she yells but nobody can hear her.
This doesn’t have much to do with anything so you can write it off as the ghosts messing around. We do see a shady guy at one of the tables who looks a lot like the Patrolman though so maybe he was already making moves. Once the crash happened then they start to really go in.
It takes a while to get going but basically the Patrolman is an evil spirit of a guy who died a while back so now he goes around murdering everyone he can. He has the ability to lower your body temperature to the point of freezing and then you die. It’s difficult or impossible for a living person to stop him since he’s a specter and he can mildly mess with reality/cause hallucinations. I mean his car is clearly very real which is always the annoying thing about fighting guys like this.
They can become intangible when needed and then go physical just in time to land a hit. Unless you have super powers of your own then you’re really doomed. The most annoying thing here aside from the heroes just being doomed against this guy is the backstory is unnecessarily edgy. Basically as a corrupt Patrolman he would force people into his cars and then ultimately murder them.
It’s a pretty tragic circumstance and this guy has been running around unchecked for many, many years. What about all of the victims he murdered? Well they’re all specters as well but are basically powerless to keep on repeating the same actions over and over. They yell and beg to be avenged and all but why don’t they fight back? The guy is able to fight as a specter so what about all of the endless people who died here? They have the numbers advantage with ease so it shouldn’t be a question of power. They should be able to win against a single guy.
It’s just a case of the villain being stronger for no real reason. If you’re going to go supernatural then go all the way with a powerful demon or something but not a normal serial killer who was so angry at the world that he got powers? Eh that’s not a great explanation at all.
There also isn’t a whole lot of scenery over here as it’s just snowy everywhere. It can be a bit spooky with all the ghosts running around too and all but it just wasn’t enough. Nothing happens for a long time and once the flashbacks start to occur then you want to go back to the present already.
Now talking about red herrings, there is a suspicious scene where the guy walks away saying he will check out the gas station but then he returns almost immediately and says that it’s closed. The girl points out that he wasn’t gone long enough to actually check and why would it be closed so early? She almost calls his bluff to check it out but decides not to. My issue is…it was too far for him to check. So did he lie about it? Did the ghosts mess with her flow of time so she was walking around for a really long amount of time? The film doesn’t give you any indication of this so we have to assume that he’s lying and it’s yet another reason not to trust him.
The movie also gets dangerously close to trying to start a bit of a romance here and that’s really not going to work. Aside from the fact that they don’t get along at all, there are much bigger things to think about right now. The ole body heat technique also feels like it’s just around to force some relationship building for them when I don’t see that working very well and you’ll just end up freezing each other.
Overall, Wind Chill is a film that I would definitely recommend avoiding. It’s a fairly classic horror film that isn’t trying to do anything new but doesn’t really commit to the approach as much as it should. The whole time loop with the evil patrolman didn’t do the film any favors either. There are some things you can do with that if the flashback was more interesting or something but this guy was a pretty awful villain so no luck there. He’s also apparently been bumping people off every year since the 60s and nobody’s thought to start an investigation? Definitely give this one a skip.