Review by Sean Boelman
The survival thriller is one of the most simple genres there is because it dials into a universal and basic instinct. However, if a film fails to add anything to this established formula, it can end up feeling derivative and bland, as is the case with Brendan Walsh’s decent but straightforward Centigrade.
The movie follows a couple who, after pulling off on the side of the road to avoid a blizzard, find themselves trapped in their car under layers of snow. Granted, there is a rather large subset of viewers that likely won’t identify with the fear in this immediate set of circumstances, the threat of freezing to death is certainly pretty scary.
That said, the film is so derivative of other, more effective movies about getting trapped in the cold, and even repetitive upon itself that it ends up being somewhat annoying. And somehow, each time a new element is added to the equation, it becomes even more frustrating than it was before.
What could have elevated this beyond standard thriller status would have been some more substantial character work. And while the first act of the movie does explore the relationship between the two characters to a certain extent, this is largely abandoned in favor of delivering more blind thrills for the remainder of the hour and a half runtime.
And while the genre often serves as a cautionary tale to dissuade against some sin committed against the natural world, and here, it feels like nothing more than a giant case of these people getting caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. As a result, there’s simply no arc and little character development to be found.
Perhaps the most fatal mistake made by the film, though, is the fact that it doesn’t utilize its confined location effectively. Instead of restricting the camera movement, the movie tries to be creative with the angles from which the film was shot, thereby creating an illusion that the car is much bigger than it actually is.
That said, Vincent Piazza and Genesis Rodriguez do a very good job in the movie. The first half largely stays afloat thanks to their chemistry, as that, rather than the subpar character development, is what keeps us invested in their story. But as the central relationship deteriorates and the characters go on their own paths, the film no longer has their connection as a crutch.
Centigrade attempts to milk thrills out of a by-the-book set-up and an intriguing premise, yet fails to deliver much of anything resembling excitement. It’s watchable, largely thanks to its stars, but there are far more entertaining examples of the genre to watch.
Centigrade hits VOD on August 28.