Man, is “247°F” ever a rough experience. And not just because directors Levan Bakhia, and Beqa Jguburia pay homage to Rob Zombie’s “Halloween” movies by casting Scout Taylor Compton and Tyler Mane in one movie. But mainly because what should have been a disturbing, claustrophobic and suffocating horror thriller really is just a mediocre movie where once again stupid people turn on each other rather than think rationally and try to think of a solution. For reasons I still can’t figure out, writers Levan Bakhia, and Beqa Jguburia start the film off with a prologue giving us only one crucial bit of information we need to know about Compton’s character Jenna. She’s claustrophobic.
After a vicious car crash took the life of her boyfriend, she was pinned in her car for a long time, giving her claustrophobia. Remember that. She’s claustrophobic, the writers have to insist we remember. Truthfully, a lot of what occurs is made even worse by sheer human stupidity and failure to grasp any kind of common sense. When the story fast forwards, Jenna tries to move on by going on a vacation with her three long time friends in order to re-charge. After a lot of clunky exposition, the writers place great emphasis on the sauna that Tyler Mane’s character Wade has in his basement. Seriously, he has a hot box capable of frying someone alive in the basement. And the doors are made of wood, which initially made me theorize the door would swell shut locking the poor saps in.
Mane’s character Wade is one of the stupider of the bunch, feeding his residents moon shine, and allowing them to roam free without checking up on them. So in the midst of one of their spats, character Michael drunkenly stumbles out of the sauna, and his three friends are trapped inside, left to fend for themselves. Oddly enough, the sauna is given significant screen time in an effort to give it an ominous presence. Really you’re just left wondering why the group keeps going in to the lake, and running back in to the sauna about four or five times. What’s the point of this repetitive montage? In either case, three of the friends are left in the sauna to roast as Jenna really does nothing but moan, whine, and whimper in a corner, as friend Renee instantly begins freaking out, and the only intelligent character Ian does nothing but instill fear in the other victims.
Really? Should you describe what heat stroke is like to two girls hyperventilating in a sauna? And would it have been so tough to just sit and wait for Michael or Wade to come down and check the sauna? It’s made perfectly clear the group loves the sauna, so eventually Michael would have gone down to steam for a bit. Surprisingly, what should have been the anti-“Frozen” really doesn’t accomplish its sense of turmoil and horrific suffocation, and that’s mainly because of the terrible writing. The characters are despicable so there’s zero empathy, and the directors don’t really indicate visually how much these people are suffering.
Besides, knowing they’d eventually be discovered ruins any suspense. There’s also a really awkward focus on character Wade as the directors seem to be padding out Tyler Mane’s role for more prominent screen time. You think it’s leading somewhere, but it’s just a clumsily staged plot device to add an obstacle to the characters’ fight for survival. The only competent performances are by Travis Van Winkle and Tyler Mane, both of whom are likable and interesting in their performances. Compton still is a terrible actress, so her “tragic” character just feels whiny. The directors try to become metaphoric injecting some hallucinations and attempts to signify Jenna’s torment, but it’s just one big misstep after another. If you have to see “247°F,” see it for Christina Ulloa. You can skip everything else.