By Michelle Halloween
Time to cool off horror and thriller fans. It’s about to get ice cold. It may be hot in Southern California but, I had to grab my favorite warm blanket and, a cup of hot tea while watching CENTIGRADE. Inspired by actual events, ten events according to Writer and, Director Brendan Walsh, CENTIGRADE is a film about a young couple who become trapped in their rental car during a blizzard while driving through the arctic mountains of Norway. No spoilers from me about who, if anyone, survives. I am still shaking from the shivers that set in while watching the movie.
CENTIGRADE stars Genesis Rodriguez (Naomi) and, Vincent Piazza (Matt); the young American couple who were simply on their way to one of Naomi’s book signings. The film begins with the couple waking up from a rest on the side of the road and, instantly become annoyed with each other for falling asleep. The two quickly realize that they are snowed in, and literally sealed inside of the car. The car won’t start and, they decided if they try to dig out, they could risk freezing to death. Naomi and, Matt bicker about who’s fault this situation is, “we-should-have’s” and, the typical disagreements that strained married couples have when they are in the comforts of their homes. The scenes of mistrust and, doubts add to the anxiety of the situation for the viewer as much as the characters. Naomi and, Matt didn’t seem to find comfort in each other before the trip. Now, it’s only them and, the mistrust is unrelenting. That is until Naomi’s back pain flares and, Matt is quick to ease her discomfort. I haven’t yet mentioned that on top of being trapped by a blizzard in the mountains of Norway, Naomi is eight months pregnant.
The film moves on with the couples heath visibly deteriorating. Hopeful moments turn into acceptance and, panic as their situation just won’t improve. The food has run out, and while the couple has been able to be resourceful from the items found in the car, it’s all no match for the descending temperature and, the couple’s very close-to-term pregnancy. CENTIGRADE takes viewers on a slow, agonizing journey alongside Matt and Naomi’s own misery.
I always appreciate a movie, even more, when it is inspired by actual events. CENTIGRADE is inspired by about 10 actual stories of survival. This could be construed as a bit morbid, but THANK GOODNESS CENTIGRADE is made up of many accounts rolled into one! I state that because Naomi and Matt endure way too much suffering it was almost too much. Add labor and delivery to that mix, the story just gets more complicated for the couple and, very disheartening. CENTIGRADE is a slow-paced and, agonizing survival thriller that will have viewers double-checking who their travel partners are and, hopefully, instill preparedness methods.
I found CENTIGRADE relatable. The bickering between Naomi and Matt can be found between any couple when a tire goes flat or dinner gets burned. The blame games and, accusations become a bit hard to watch because you’ll want the characters to join forces to solve the problem. They had the potential but, their egos, resentments, and forced attempts of affection make the movie uncomfortable beyond the tight space the couple are in. There aren’t many cringe moments but, the few that happen actually made sense for me. Maybe for some unfamiliar with pagan practices and, starvation Placentia eating is considered cringe-worthy but, I found this to be absolutely necessary for the situation. I appreciate the reality of Naomi and Matt’s relationship as they didn’t sugar coat their suspicions of each other. In the end, some hope prevails and, at least affection and, love were found despite the odds being against everyone in that car.
CENTIGRADE is about more than a survival story. Naomi and Matt’s hearts are just as cold as the blizzard that traps them. This film will have you shivering from the bitter coldness from the setting as well as the character’s attitudes. The film doesn’t let up on the struggle for the small family to survive. Only until the end credits is there any clarity and relief for viewers. So, for those out there ready to take that road trip with your loved ones, meditate and prepare yourselves. You never know when Mother Nature will decide to take your life into her own frozen hands.
Opening August 28th on VOD, Digital Platforms, and Drive-In Theaters.