(director/writer: Sebastien Drouin; screenwriters: Andrew Desmond, James Kermack; cinematographer: Ryan Petey; editor: Sebastien Drouin; music: Cyril Morin; cast: Allen Leech (David Petersen), Nina Bergman (Ana), Yan Tual (Vincent), Riley Banzer (Billy), (Miller), James Barton Steel (Miller), Sydney Hendricks (Cassie), William Kuklis (John Scheele), Gil Bothelho (Clifford), Kat Fullerton (Cashier), Alexander Shefler (Ray); Runtime: 87; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: James Kermack, James Barton Steel, Julien Loeffler; Trilight Entertainment; 2023-UK/Canada)

“Chilling wintry survival thriller.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

French writer-director Sebastien Drouin, known for his visual effects, helms in his feature film debut this chilling wintry survival thriller, which he co-writes with Andrew Desmond and James Kermack.

It opens with a prologue telling in a voiceover that people are capable of either good or evii. It then relates a tale about a local creature from Native American folklore who seeks revenge against those who cannibalized the territory.

During Christmas time David Petersen (Allen Leech) is on the road in the Colorado Rockies despite a weather forecast of an upcoming winter storm. Stopping off at a roadside diner, the nerdy guy calmly in a non-violent way comes to the aid of the waitress, Ana (Nina Bergman), being harassed by her belligerent drunken ex-husband Vincent (Yan Tual).

Back on the road, with the waitress riding with him, he runs into a blizzard and gets stuck in a ravine when Vincent follows him and he goes off the road trying to elude him. Things become even worse than the freezing cold when he hears the scary sounds coming from a strange creature prowling around his car and has no cell power to seek help or means to defend himself against the unseen creature.

The film shifts gears when we learn that the harmless looking David has a few dark secrets, and we’re left wondering if survival is in the cards.

What puts a damper on things is the slight script, the awkward dialogue and the film’s ragged flow, After its reveal and nightmare scenes, the film seems trapped and goes nowhere. Though offering many admirable thrills, it ultimately results in a film whose visuals outshine its story.

It played at FrightFest.

REVIEWED ON 2/16/2024  GRADE: B-