No one would accuse writer-director Larry Fessenden (Wendigo) of being unable to conjure dread, and this frosty exercise in eco-horror doesn’t take long to work its unsettling juju. Something isn’t right up at the North Industries station in the frozen landscape of Alaska: Everyone from the company’s oil-pipeline manager (Perlman) to the watchdog journalist (LeGros) seems spooked for some unidentifiable reason. As nobody has unearthed any spaceships à la The Thing, you can’t blame transmogrifying aliens; it’s probably cabin fever screwing with everybody’s head. But all those evil-looking crows and frozen corpses with missing eyes suggest something wicked is prowling the (temporarily) pristine tundra. Maybe those token Native American characters had a point when they suggested that the earth’s animus is finally taking revenge on the folks who’d poison it for profit.
Being adept at maintaining unease, however, will take you only so far if your dialogue sounds as if it’s been pilfered from pulp paperbacks and your actors’ performances range from slightly wooden to downright oaken. The Last Winter’s beguiling 11th-hour premise can’t make up for such technical deficiencies and poor storytelling, and even the spine-tingling anxiety is permanently punctured once Fessenden gives form to the pro-environmental apparitions. He should stick to the Val Lewton route next time.
Cast and crew