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Stanley Film Fest Review: Blood Glacier is a Great Creature Feature

Blood Glacierfile_176723_0_shock-score-8.90x72Cross-pollinate John Carpenter's The Thing with John Frankenheimer's Prophecy and you get the ambitious, better-than-I-ever-expected German eco-horror/nature-run-amok film Blood Glacier.

The set-up is prime fodder for a SyFy original movie, but it transcends all of that nonsense with deft direction, good performances, a focused tone and a menagerie of beasties. Blood Glacier commits to its ideas and never wavers. If you're smiling through some of the madness that occurs, it's not because it's silly. It's because the movie is just crazy enough to work.

Where other eco-horror films find mother nature lashing out against individuals for their crimes against the Earth – like the aforementioned Prophecy, the developers of Wolfen or the couple of 1978's Long Weekend – Blood Glacier takes a broader approach. The protagonists here – scientists at work in the Austrian Alps – are not being punished for any particular sins they have committed; they are simply on the front lines of something that will have a global effect. They're not the only ones fucked. We're all fucked. And we can blame climate change, moreover ourselves, for that. In, I suppose, a Lovecraftian way, Blood Glacier takes a "creeping dread"-esque stance. The unknown is coming, it's inevitable and you cannot prevent it.

But don't get me wrong. Blood Glacier isn't a preachy diatribe. It's a creature feature at heart, it's just smart enough to know that it has to come from a real place for its audience to care (unlike the silly SyFy fare filled with angry critters). And here, Blood Glacier's "ground zero" is the eponymous block of ice that has been mysteriously dyed by a crimson organic substance. Local wildlife who ingest this ice – or, local wildlife who eat other wildlife that have feasted on the ice – transform into terrifying hybrid monstrosities. These monstrosities, in turn, attack our scientist protagonists – lead by Janek (this film's "MacReady") – and all hell breaks loose.

Blood Glacier doesn't waste any time and I respect that. Within the opening moments, Janek is discovering the glacier things just take off at a speedy pace from there. The characters are developed enough for us to care about them and their dynamic is rather wonderful when the film's events take a more contained, seige-like approach. The special FX are a spotty blend of CGI and practical, but they're hardly offensive.

The film played to Stanley Film Festival audiences, but you won't have to wait long to see it. Blood Glacier hits VOD and select theaters on May 2nd and you'd do well to check out this worthy discovery.