This is almost like “The Creature from the Black Lagoon” if conceived by Jim Jarmusch and directed by Larry Fessenden. The film attempts to put up a pretence that it’s saving the monster shots for the big finale, but in reality you can almost feel the director concealing the monster for the fact that it’s not a very menacing creature, when all is said and done.
I’m still not sure what the intent was toward “Hypothermia” and as such the film is confusing to really pin down. Were they trying to add an art house to a monster movie? Or did the writer seriously intend to create some sort of character study about redemption? If so, the writer doesn’t exactly provide us with a startling character study as most of the film’s focus is set on catching the monster. There’s Michael Rooker who stars as Ray, a man who while ice fishing is pulled under water by some mysterious creature. There’s mention of Ray’s son and his daughter in law going to the Peace Corps, but there’s nothing else beyond that brief expository moment. Ray returns from the cold with the help of his son and writes off the occurrence as an accident. Meanwhile Ray and his family of three meet Cote and his son Steve, both of whom are hunting the monster with high tech equipment.
It’s never mentioned why Cote is so anxious to find and kill the monster, it’s never indicated why he’s so passionate about finding the beast, and there’s never any reason for Cote to be so volatile in his personality. Once we meet Cote, actor Don Wood chews the scenery with an outgoing personality and loud commands, while Rooker and co. spend their time trying to calm his anxiety and help him focus on his mission. I expected some story from Cote about someone he loved dying in the ice, but there’s never a moment where we find out his purpose or why he’s so driven. He’s just a hunter who really wants to find the monster. So much so that when his son survives a skirmish, he refuses to go to the hospital.
Even when the beast injects his son with venom, there’s no actual rationale behind the fact that Cote refuses to drive to the hospital. I never understood why the beast injected venom and what it added to its prey. I could also never understand why the beast only hunted the males in the group, while the women were generally unaffected for the most part. Were they just smarter or did the monster crave the male animal? I would have honestly dwelled on those questions but I was still trying to get over the fact that these characters go ice fishing as a family bonding trip every year. Seriously, who does that?
Is the beast a metaphor for something? Is there a reason why it’s hunting the humans? Did the humans disturb it somehow or is the beast just hungry? “Hypothermia” seemingly takes its time revealing the monster and pacing the action set pieces. When we finally do see the monster in all its glory, suffice it to say it’s really not worth the wait. Neither is the finale that seem to be hell bent on symbolizing something. Sadly the tone and writing are so off kilter it’s tough to figure out what if anything was supposed to be gained here. Unless you’re a hardcore fan of Michael Rooker and have to see everything he’s in, “Hypothermia” is a film you can miss without having deprived yourself of anything. I wish I could recommend this and boast about it being a hidden gem, but in the end it’s merely forgettable and only worth trying for the sake of Rooker.