Christmas break. A young woman catches a ride home from a stranger she meets through a college ride board. Racing to beat a severe winter storm, the two young travelers take a shortcut down a remote country road, only to find themselves forced into a snow bank by a mysterious vehicle that engages them in a dangerous game of chicken. Over the long night that ensues, an intense relationship develops between the pair as they must brave the elements and confront the road's sinister legacy that dates back to the terrible events that occurred there in the 1950s.
Good start to this discreet horror film, as one of those nightmare-fantasy road-movie ideas gets a tryout: What if the rideshare lift you got from a classmate over winter break turned really, really bad? Recently jilted college co-ed Emily Blunt finds herself catching a ride with a fellow student (Ashton Holmes) who seems to know much more about her than he should. It's a snowy night, and a turn-off from the main highway becomes just as crazy as any idiot could've told you it would be. Much of the remainder of the film seems to be a variation on the kind of urban legend (well, rural legend) that gets turned into a baleful country song. That's where it gets, literally, bogged down: the early scares and red herrings are well-managed, but when it comes time to actually supply an explanation for its apparitions, Wind Chill
flops. The movie is produced by George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh's company, and directed by one of their protégés, Gregory Jacobs. The most effective thing about it (other than some half-formed allusions to Nietzsche, which might explain the central mystery) is the abrasive relationship between the two riders. Blunt (following her success in My Summer of Love
and The Devil Wears Prada
) creates that rarity, a young woman who does not seem to want to be loved by the audience. This nurtures some believable tension, after which the drifts begin to get thick. --Robert Horton