Centigrade: A Cold Survival Thriller

Genesis Rodriguez and Vincent Piazza in Centigrade (2020)

I’ll be honest. I’m not a fan of most survival films. The only one I really enjoy and still re-watch is Into the Wild. That had the advantage of being based on Jon Krakauer’s book and thorough research. It also had the benefit of featuring an incredibly sympathetic, idealistic protagonist, Chris McCandless. I also go back and reach Jack London’s short fiction from time to time and have taught it in American Lit and Literature and the Environment, but as for survival stories, that’s about as far as I go.

Recently, I was given a screener for Centigrade, IFC Midnight’s new film about a couple trapped in a car in artic Norway. (My full review here for HorrOrigins). There are a few aspects of the film that appeal to me. The fact its setting is so centralized and so small, specifically a car, intrigued me. A lot of well-known survival stories take place in actual nature, so I was intrigued by the idea of an interior setting within the larger naturalistic and unforgiving setting. Additionally, the film only has two characters, Matt (Vincent Piazza) and Naomi (Genesis Rodriguez). Because the setting is so specific and so claustrophobic, it allows their story to slowly unravel, specifically issues within their relationship, exacerbated by their perilous situation.

Additionally, the film was shot in an ice cream freezer for 3-4 days at a time, as director Brendan Walsh wanted to make the setting as real as possible, including encouraging Rodriguez and Piazza to fast while shooting to feel an actual sense of hunger and starvation. That said, the film toys with the idea that the story was based on a true story, but the characters are entirely fictional. It’s only based on a handful of accounts and research Walsh did about people trapped under feet of snow who somehow survived.

While parts of the story are a bit outlandish, Centigrade is one of the more intriguing survival thrillers I’ve seen in some time. The film just dropped on VOD.

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