I must admit I’m a sucker for films based in an isolated environment. The confinement, the psychological fragility it imposes and the adverse conditions all tend to add to the atmosphere of the movie. From the original Thing from Another World (1951), to Carpenter’s remake (1982) to Larry Fessenden’s The Last Winter (2006). In Blood Glacier we find ourselves in the German Alps with four technicians and scientists (and a dog) in a research station. We’re told at the start that in 2013 the last sceptics fall silent and that climate disaster is worse than imagined. Antarctica’s ice will be gone within a decade, alpine glaciers will disappear and although the consequences are unclear the idea that life will change forever is certain.
Janek (Gerhard Liebmann) is the most grizzled of the people at the station. Normally people volunteer to attend the facility in year-long secondments, but Janek is on his fourth stretch. On an exploratory walk to discover why an outlying station is no longer sending a signal, Janek along with a scientist stumble across a mysterious organism which due to the receding ice is now exposed. Baffled at what it is, how it originated and most importantly why it is there, a mood of concerned trepidation washes over the camp.
When late one night a mutated fox complete with mandibles is spotted by Janek he raises the alarm to the others. As he’s the only witness to this gross creature and with him favouring a drop of a little something to ease him to sleep, the scientists are initially very dismissive of his story. With an impending visit from the Health Minister (Brigitte Kren) to think about they figure that they have more important things to concern themselves with. However the discovery the next day of a mutated insect leads the team to retract their cynicism about Janek’s observation, whilst the realisation of what’s actually occurring begins to dawn on everybody.
It’s easy to offer comparisons (as the cover sleeve does) to The Thing and Assault on Precinct 13 in describing Blood Glacier, but I think that’s largely unfair as this film is good enough to stand on its own merits. Underlining its ecological aspects early on gives it a credible narrative, but more important than that is its casting of weathered European actors which distances it from the age obsessed Hollywood botox factory into something far more conceivable.
The use of largely practical effects is as always a bold decision that works admirably, whilst the setting of this Austrian funded film is enhanced by director Marvin Kren getting the most out of the lush mountainous settings and drool inducing vistas. In a market where the term ‘creature feature’ is something that has been cheapened to the point of mockery with endless CGI infused Mega Shark vs Mutated Sea Bass style film, Blood Glacier grabs the sub-genre by the balls and gives us something very memorable indeed.