A family of four are trying to enjoy some ice fishing on a lake overlooking their cabin when two strangers intrude. They have louder, more obnoxious fishing equipment; they ride around on snowmobiles; and they think they’re all-American bad asses. If that wasn’t bad enough, it seems their larger-than-life attitude has also pissed something off underneath the frozen lake. Hypothermia is an atmospheric horror movie that builds tension extremely well and uses its limited budget to great effect. If that sounds like a good time, you probably won’t want to read any further.
Here’s the rub: The monster under the lake looks TERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRIBLE. By terrible, I mean it looks like a discarded idea from Creature from the Black Lagoon. If you don’t want the reveal spoiled, this is as far as you can read. It’s a tough thing to do, but I still recommend you go watch Hypothermia and then come back. It’s streaming on Netflix, and it really is a good movie – with a gigantic caveat. In just a moment, I’ll show you what I’m talking about.
If you’re still here, then we can proceed. Here’s a picture of the monster from Creature from the Black Lagoon:
I mean, that looks pretty bad, but you also have to take into consideration when the movie was made. In that context, it’s kind of cool, actually. But here’s what the monster in Hypothermia looks like:
Okay. So…wait. What the fuck? My wife and I were thoroughly engaged in the movie, and then that thing pops out. My wife involuntarily laughed, and my eyebrows just about gave the top of my head a buzz cut. As far as modern movie-making goes, that’s about the worst shit I’ve seen since, oh…I don’t even know. I can’t think of anything worse than that right now. If you can, go ahead and tell me about it in the comments. I’d love to see it.
Hypothermia is obviously a low-budget movie. It takes place in a single setting with minimal number of characters, and it clocks in at only an hour and twelve minutes. The director, James Felix McKenney, built himself a good little horror flick until the Fish-Man monstrosity jumps out of the water, running toward its prey coincidentally just like someone with limited mobility inside a rubber suit would. Huh. It can’t be because they did the best they could with the money they had. If that were the case, it would only stand to reason to not show that piece of shit. Therefore, they had to have thought it looked pretty good. Wrong answer, guys. You just ruined your entire movie. I don’t know how this is possible, but the Black Lagoon creature actually looks way more detailed and cool.
I’m still willing to see what else McKenney can do with more money, because like I said, it’s a good experience up until the monster reveal. But this just goes to show how one misstep, especially in the special effects department, can derail everything. The realistically gruesome deaths, slow build-up, and having Michael Rooker all mean nothing once Fish-Man comes to awkwardly paw at their faces while whoever’s holding the camera does everything he can to obscure a good look at it.