Holy shit, it’s cold! M.L. Miller aka the @$$hole formerly known as Ambush Bug here. Let’s continue the countdown fun with the Best Snow-Covered horror films for the chilly month of January. To be fair, I’m going to forgo repeating myself with Holiday horror films since we covered that last month.
The frigid air, the crunch of snow underfoot, and the contrast between red blood and pure white snow makes Snow-covered horror films one of my favorite sub-subgenre’s of horror. I’m going to count down the films that made me feel the chilliest while watching. As far as how I compiled this list? Well, there’s no real method to my special brand of madness. I’ll be counting down every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday through December to my favorite snow-covered horror film of the year. I’m sure there are some that I’ve missed, overlooked, or simply haven’t seen yet, but that’s what the comments section below is all about.
So let’s get to it! Chime in after the article and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, and most importantly, come up with your own damn list…let’s go!
#11 – EXTINCTION – #11
Why is EXTINCTION #11? Because despite this being a zombie film, this isn’t your run of the mill zombie film as the zombies have evolved to the point where the cold doesn’t bother them. This is an action packed fight for survival with some great acting and a chilling environment. You can find it here on DVD/BluRay and on Amazon here!
aka WELCOME TO HARMONY
Directed by Miguel Ángel Vivas
Written by Juan de Dios Garduño (novel), Alberto Marini, Miguel Ángel Vivas
Starring Matthew Fox, Jeffrey Donovan, Quinn McColgan, Valeria Vereau, Clara Lago, Eduardo Fedriani, Matt Devere, Alex Hafner, Jeremy Wheeler, Katharine Bubbear
Find out more about this film here
While zombie movies have become passé these days, I really think folks are just sick of uninspired zombie films retreading material we’ve seen a thousand times before. Add a new element or give it a new spin and zombies can be just as terrifying as any old monster. This is the case for the excellent new zombie flick EXTINCTION, which may have a somewhat uninspired name (I kind of like the original name of the film WELCOME TO HARMONY myself), but it delivers on just about every level a good zombie movie should.
The film opens with Patrick (LOST’s Matthew Fox) and Jack (BURN NOTICE’s Jeffrey Donovan) packed into a school bus filled with people on their way…somewhere. Right off the bat we are not really told what type of film this is, but you definitely know the mood is dire and everyone is terrified. When the bus ahead comes to a stop the second bus becomes even more concerned, and when one of the armed soldiers goes to investigate, an outbreak occurs and we see how fast this undead virus passes from one person to the next as well as how violent these infected become. Reminiscent of the outbreak scene in 28 WEEKS LATER, this opener packs a huge emotional and suspenseful punch and is an excellent opener to the white knuckle intensity that follows for pretty much the entire film.
Skipping ahead nine years, the situation has changed dramatically with Patrick and Jack not talking to one another and the baby who was born in the first moments of the film, which happens to be Patrick’s, is now being raised by Jack. This nine-year-old child named Lu (Quinn McColgan) is full of energy, questions, and a streak of rebelliousness that strikes the fear of god in Jack, whose rigid and controlled lifestyle has been crucial in surviving in this post-apocalyptic world. Though something has happened in between the opener and this new time in which the story takes place, the viewer isn’t let in on the secret until much later. The relationship between Patrick, Jack, and Lu is the driving force for the film and it’s a strong one as Patrick and Jack seem to have a bitter hatred towards one another, but not so much that Patrick has moved any further than the house across the street from where Jack and Lu live. Drinking the nights away and reaching out on a ham radio to find survivors, Patrick is a shell of a man in an arctic northern tundra seemingly far away from the threat of the infected. But when a naked and pale monster in the shape of a man crawls around outside in the snow sniffing for prey, it looks as if the infected have evolved into something even more menacing and adapted to the cold weather, posing a new threat that might be just the thing to repair the three’s strained relationship.
Matthew Fox and Jeffrey Donovan are fantastic here as best friends pushed apart by the toll of the plague that befell humanity. Fox is soulful and grief-stricken at what he has lost (at times reminiscent of the season on LOST where he returns home and is down and out), but retains his humor at times which comes out as he plays loud music and gives mock radio shows to no one drunkenly over the loudspeakers surrounding his home. Next door, Donovan’s Jack is trying his best to keep a rambunctious pre-teen entertained, educating her to survive, but also trying to be the father Patrick is not able to be. The contemptuous relationship between the two is amazingly fleshed out and really makes for some fine drama as these two are avoiding one another but can’t bring themselves to move away from one another given that they need each other to survive. Even as bitter enemies they have each other’s backs, and there’s something awesome about how this movie conveys this relationship.
The zombies themselves have evolved into something much more threatening in EXTINCTION. Reminiscent of the underground monsters from THE DESCENT with their noses and lips frost burnt off, these creatures make this much more threatening than your usual zombie fodder. The way the creatures move, interact, and attack are all unique, which also makes this zombie film so good and unlike the rest.
The arctic setting is another win for this film, as I have a tendency to love most horror films set in the snow. Something about the bitter cold and the stark landscape that looks innocent but is deadly adds to whatever beastie is lurking about in the shadows. Here the bitter cold is used as protection from the monsters, but as they have evolve it becomes just another obstacle for our heroes to be entombed in as the monsters descend on their homes.
Director Miguel Ángel Vivas has delivered a gorgeous movie which soaks in the golden sun, the twinkling and stark snowdrifts, and simple settings within the homes. Vivas also delivers all the right emotional beats that made me fall in love with these characters and root for all of them to survive. The climax of the film is jaw-droppingly good as Vivas splits the action into three locales, moving the camera through walls and across spaces vertically and horizontally to take in all of the action. It’s the type of sophisticated storytelling through camera movement you don’t normally see in films and a true indication that Vivas has many amazing films ahead of him.
So don’t be scared away thinking EXTINCTION is just another zombie movie. It’s filled with amazing action, drama that will make your heart swell and burst, and monsters that have evolved past your typical zombie fodder. If more films evolved the zombie concept like this, much of the stigma attached to zombie films would be dispersed. As is, EXTINCTION is an amazing little slice of cinema that thrills on all levels.
If you like what I wrote above, help me out and buy it on Amazon here
M.L. Miller goes by many names—Ambush Bug, Mark L. Miller, hey you jerk over there! He’s an original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow Mark on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller.
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