A Terrifying Thriller that Keeps You on Edge
“Chills” (2007), or as I like to call it, “A One-Way Shortcut,” is a solid horror thriller, almost a slasher, directed by Gregory Jacobs. This co-production between the United Kingdom and the United States features two unfamiliar faces providing the funding: George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh. The film stars the talented and stunning Emily Blunt as the college girl and the well-known actor Ashton Holmes as the nameless driver.
The movie had a very limited theatrical release in April 2007 and was poorly distributed by TriStar Pictures, making it harder to find than a copy of Hola magazine in Ethiopia. However, it quickly made its way to the DVD market, at least in the United Kingdom. “Chills,” which is well-shot despite some script flaws and confusing gaps that may leave the viewer puzzled, remains an interesting movie with solid performances. It may not be perfectly executed, but it brings a breath of fresh air to a genre that sometimes becomes too self-indulgent.
A Critical Review of “Chills”
- Title: Chills
- Original Title: Wind Chill
- Cast: Emily Blunt (Girl), Ashton Holmes (Boy), Martin Donovan (Police Officer), Ned Bellamy (Snowplow Driver)
- Year: 2007
- Duration: 87 minutes
- Country: United States
- Director: Gregory Jacobs
- Writers: Joe Gangemi, Steven Katz
- Cinematography: Dan Laustsen
- Music: Clint Mansell
- Genre: Thriller, horror
A college girl (Emily Blunt) returns home for Christmas and decides, instead of taking the bus, to find a carpool companion through a college bulletin board. The driver (Ashton Holmes), a rather peculiar young man and her classmate, becomes her unexpected companion.
As the journey progresses, the girl realizes that her travel companion knows more about her than he should, which starts to make her increasingly nervous. The guy decides to take a shortcut that he believes will lead them directly to Route 606, an old rural road. However, the girl disagrees, suspecting that everything is part of her strange companion’s plan. When the car crashes off the road, leaving them at the mercy of freezing temperatures that drop to minus 35 degrees Celsius, the true nightmare begins.
Where to Watch the Movie
Now, dear readers, up until this crucial moment in the film, everything leads us to believe that the driver is nothing more than the typical psycho in love with his beautiful companion. Perhaps that’s true, or maybe both concepts are intertwined.
Apart from the fact that the driver suffers a severe head injury during the accident, leading him to bleed profusely from one ear and take a ten-minute detour to the gas station (which is impossible since it was closed), where he confesses to the girl that he is deeply infatuated with her, claiming that he did everything to spend six hours with her, even though he doesn’t even live in Delaware, their final destination. It seems like the truth is out, but this is when the real nightmare begins.
Horror on the Roadside
With the temperature dropping lower than a retiree’s pension, the car window halfway closed, and their only sustenance being the food they had in the college parking lot, ghostly figures start to appear, for now only observing our winter castaways.
However, the appearance of new supernatural elements, such as a wicked police officer or a group of elderly monks, combined with the worsening condition of the driver, who couldn’t make it to the gas station because he was peeing blood, completely changes the direction of the film. The girl must transform herself into a kind of Wonder Woman to face the horrors that lie ahead, terrible events that took place in the 1950s.
But enough for now, dear readers. To uncover part of the complex plot of “Chills,” you will be compelled to watch it. Perhaps I’ll need to think about sharing a spoiler, but I’m not entirely sure yet.
The Blunt Factor
I cannot be impartial when it comes to the talented Londoner. Since I discovered her in the fantastic comedy “The Devil Wears Prada” (2006), even in a supporting role, my admiration for her has grown stronger and stronger.
Discussing her filmography after the aforementioned film would be as pointless as having a windshield on a submarine. She has had one successful role after another, and her multiple Golden Globe nominations attest to her talent. However, I must mention her brilliant performance in “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” (2011). You should definitely check that out as well. In “Chills,” she is simply outstanding, starting as a university femme fatale who naturally distances herself from her dim-witted classmates (her phone conversation gives us the impression that the guy she left behind doesn’t belong in her world) and reluctantly accepts a ride from a rather simple driver, although things are not what they seem.
She gracefully transitions from a snobbish university girl to a motherly figure for the driver, from fearing a potential stalker to fearing the afterlife. She even empathizes with her admirer to the point of offering her belly as a refuge for his frozen hands. Ashton Holmes delivers a decent performance, but that’s about it. He’s somewhere between bologna and premium-grade Iberian ham, lacking that extra touch. But I’ll let you be the judge.
Gregory Jacobs, the New Jersey director who, in my opinion, is more of a producer than a director, as you can see, with or without Steven. I thoroughly enjoyed his debut in the remake of the Argentine film “Nine Queens” with “Criminal” (2004). I had a similar experience with this modest Christmas road movie, a light slasher, where he directs it more than competently in its two distinct parts.
Nevertheless, dear Jacobs will surely be remembered as an excellent producer, on his own or in the company of wolves, but a producer nonetheless.
“Chills” (“Wind Chill”) is a 90-minute suspenseful movie suitable for all audiences. There are no gory scenes or terrible deaths. Everything is smoothly presented, and the few visual effects won’t keep anyone up at night.
However, be prepared to feel the chilling cold. The freezing atmosphere of a stranded car in a ditch at 35 degrees below zero spares neither the characters nor the viewers. You will enjoy Emily Blunt’s brilliant performance, skillful editing, and excellent cinematography. You won’t believe that most of the car scenes were filmed indoors, on sets.
“Chills” may not be a great film, and as I mentioned, there are script flaws that may leave you with lingering doubts. However, with all due respect, I still recommend it.
“Congratulations and welcome to the show!”