247 Degrees

“I just love you so.”- Jenna

Any time someone is deeply in truly in love, that spells bad news in a horror movie. Sure enough, moments later, there is a car crash, and her fiance is dead and poor Jenna trapped with his body. Flash forward three years, and Jenna is out with her best friend Renee, her boyfriend Michael and a cutie named Ian. This movie sets a familiar scene; a girl with severe emotional damage begins to open herself up again. They choose a secluded spot to do their get together and trouble falls them. After alternating between dips in a cold lake and intense sauna sessions, three of the four friends find themselves trapped the sauna with the temperature set at 187 degrees and rising.

My main issue is that this was based on a true event. I have hard time accepting that an event based on true events can actually be anything besides drama which is exactly what this film delivers. There are no bad guys just one stupid series of events after another. The issue is horror movies need a bad guy. The film tries several times to paint various characters into this box. It does not work unfortunately. First there is Michael, a party boy who likes to get high and drink a little too much. We eventually learn that he it is his fault they are locked in the sauna. He drunkenly stumbles into a ladder and places it directly in front of the sauna door. All it takes is two gentle pushes on the door and the ladder slides into place effectively sealing their fate. Michael then passes out from his combination of weed smoking and booze and has no memory of leaving his friends in the sauna.

Then there is Renee. She is whiny and annoying and seems like an overgrown child. She has aspirations of being a grown up, the reasoning she gives to Jenna for abandoning her in her time of need, but gives no evidence in the movie’s hour and a half run time of having any of these qualities. She keeps screaming that she wants to get out and is finally silenced by Jenna when she is hit in the head with a rock. So much for being best friends huh?

Ian does not seem to fit this film. He’s smart, almost too smart for what befalls him. He tries to be the voice of reason through out their sauna saga, telling them to avoid killing the thermometer, stay away from the gas and even burns himself trying to get a rock to break the small window on the sauna door. Nothing he does or says is greeted as good news. He does not fit the film because we know so little about him. He isn’t part of the original group; just an old friend of Michael’s but is virtually unknown to Renee and Jenna. Despite his sacrifices, the girls ignore him making bad choice after bad choice. I almost feel bad for him, going mad in the last minutes of the film and killing himself in an explosion.

And Jenna? I do not know what we are supposed to learn from her. We cannot hate her because of what she’s been through. We understand her choice to hit her best friend in the face with the rock; the chick had it coming. What’s wrong with Jenna is what’s wrong with the majority of the film. It violates the basic horror movie rules. No one technically does any thing wrong, they simply are in the wrong place at the wrong time and can’t be held responsible for their actions. If they had all gone to the party like they were supposed to, they wouldn’t have gone into the sauna. If Michael hadn’t gotten the weed from Uncle Wade, he wouldn’t have passed out and forgotten about his friends in the Sauna. Had Jenna listened to Ian, she wouldn’t have broken the thermometer and caused the heat to go up again. Had Uncle Wade checked on the group at all during the movie (or figured out what Beau was barking at) he would have been there in time to save them.

I felt this movie was trying to decide what it was for most of my viewing. Since there are no boogeymen there are no scares only eye rolls as the situation goes from bad to worst. When the movie ends, you aren’t left feeling bad for anyone, you are just grateful it’s over. The best part of the entire movie is the hallucination of Jenna getting out of the sauna alive. It seems so real, that you almost believe it happens and miss vital clues that it is all in her head. Now if the rest of the movie could have been rescued, I would have given it more stars.

two out of five stars.

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