No, we’re not dealing with disaster films, even though they dominate these seasonal lists. Instead, the following considers films that deal with using the environment in the favour of either the protagonists or antagonists at some point. Besides the classics like The Shining, Alien vs Predator, 30 Days of Night, Dead Snow, and The Revenant, there’s no need to repeat what’s best known about these works. The two that don’t quite nail it but I enjoy (because I’m a Canadian) include Ice Planet and The Colony. Despite being made in my home country along with another international studio, you’d think there would be no trouble getting this concept right.
Instead, I’ll go into greater detail with my favourite three. Two of which were originally made in foreign territories!
This film and the television series deserve equal notice because the latter is a reboot of sorts.
In a technologically advanced world, everyone lives on a train with no final destination. It’s a safe house, and the people who live there have to deal with injustice within the various communities that formed as the years go by. Just who runs the locomotion is unknown. Those who are fighting it out are jockeying for the position of alpha to steer humanity to its next stage of evolution.
Nobody wants to escape into the arctic wastelands that cover the world. It’s a death trap. And for those people who have become leaders, they try to decide where this train should go next, in hopes of finding a new Eden to restart humanity. But because this train rides an Ouroboros loop, there’s no hope.
This tale does not differ from James Cameron’s Titanic in some ways. The only difference concerns how an iceberg halted the trip. But within the narrative is a look at the segregation of the social class within this transport confines. Those who took this ill-fated voyage wanted a restart but what they got was terror instead!
John Carpenter’s remake of “Thing from Another World” deserves mention. It’s clearly the latest because of the gruesome effects used. Both works have their merits concerning how a team of scientists get isolated in the cold wastelands with an alien threat, but as for which movie is better, I like both. Both have their moments.
Although the earlier film tapped into the fear of atomic destruction and kickstarter an age of 50s horror, the latter serves as a reminder of why it’s best not to chase after aliens that have crashed in a wasteland.
When considering why I’m lumping these two together is that both conclude with a chilling message about humanity’s position in the great cosmos. One is more verbal about it, and the other leaves you guessing.
Let the Right One In
The original film directed by Tomas Alfredson is not only beautiful from a cinematic perspective but also the story shows why isolation and the icescapes work hand in hand. The cold winter days in Stockholm are ideal to show how isolated Oskar is. He lives in a tenement in the equally desolate suburb of Blackeberg. Life here is rough, and he’s of course bullied.
But that doesn’t stop him from finally finding a friend. Eli lives next door and she has her own problems to face, which doesn’t stop her from helping the boy. The moments we find her outside show just how dangerous she can be. The two find companionship.