Two kids trapped - nowhere to go, no cell phone signal; only one more thing to make their lives worse - it's 30 degrees below zero. Oh yeah, forgot to mention, ghosts are haunting the mountains where they're trapped.
That's what's facing Ashton Holmes (A History of Violence) and Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada) in their new horror/thriller, Wind Chill. Movieweb.com and SplatterFilms.com had the chance to travel to Vancouver, CA to go on the set of the film.
On their way home from winter break, the two college kids share a ride home together; not knowing each other prior to the ride made the tension even higher when they actually do get trapped. Writer Steven Katz and Joe Gangemi also added to the mystery by not even giving Emily and Ashton's characters names - they're the 'boy' and 'girl' in the movie.
Director Greg Jacobs said names are the kind of detail not needed in a movie like this one, because you're really just focused on the people and not their back story. "What I like about it is it's sort of a classical ghost story in a way and that's what's interesting. There's an element of psychological horror thriller; it's not a movie like Audition and Hostel and these other - it's not a gore fest, it's more in the realm of The Shining, sort of. But in addition to their horror, they're trying not to freeze to death; there are these ghosts that sort of haunt these roads and that's sort of their problem as well. The thing I liked was I feel like there's amazing sort of character development; it's not like 10 people and then by the end of it, only the two best-looking ones survive. It's these two people, and when they go through."
What we witnessed was the two actors in the car talking soon after their car breaks down. They don't know that on that road years ago, a family was killed; now, they're the ones being hunted and haunted. "We're starting to get really hungry," says Ashton. "I'm sort of scouring around my car looking for something to eat; you can imagine that tensions are running pretty high. My character and Emily's character, we don't really know each other very well, so one of the great things about this story is that these two characters who when you start, they really don't know each other at all. They're very much strangers; by the end, they're really relying on each other. There's that trust there, and we really need each other to survive."
And surviving they did - prior to getting to Vancouver, the cast and crew were on top of a mountain in Summerland, where the temperature really was freezing. "It was cripplingly cold," added Emily. "It got better, it got easier; I think a lot of us became quite immune to it. I came back and I had a dinner party at my house; all the windows were open, and I was fine in a t-shirt. Braving the elements, I think it definitely helped; we were really cold, and there's no acting there. It would have been hard to not - this film isn't called Wind Chill for nothing."
This film is also produced by George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh. "I took it to Section 8 and said this is something I want to do; they got completely behind it and they've been supportive and been great," says Greg. "They were looking to do a genre movie, and not a slasher movie, but a classical ghost story, and they've been really supportive, and been really supportive about Ashton and Emily and they've made notes."
Ashton mentioned Wind Chill cuts right to the chase, and is relentless throughout, not pulling any punches. "Pretty soon after we turn onto that road, weird things start happening; my character really tries to deny it for a while. She's more sort of affected by the supernatural beings that might be messing with us; right away, she's really on edge. Also there's an element to the movie that you might not know about - and I don't want to give too much away, but you're not really sure what my intentions are with this girl, whether or not I'm a good guy or a bad guy, and that kind of plays into the drama in the first half of the movie."
According to Emily, "It starts there, it begins with them; I think when you're not ready to accept what is happening, it's too overwhelming. Everybody's had those kind of supernatural experiences or moments like either as kids with a Ouija board or as a kid you see a ghost; I think that's the core of what they go through at the start. When it becomes obvious that what they're going through is very present and very real, they bond together over it, really bond closer than they've ever bonded with anybody else before despite their enormous differences and clashes in personality."
Throughout the shoot, the sound stage was being doubled for the Summerland mountain; takes over and over again, you could see a props people from all different angles throwing fake snow around the car. "Summer was nowhere to be found; we were shooting in negative 28-degree temperatures," Ashton said. "I think it was really important for us to experience that. One of the hurdles I had trying to act out in this weather was it was so cold, my concentration was, I wasn't really able to focus. All I could really do was shiver and kind of deliver the lines, but not with too much expression. I think it really worked; you need to see how bitterly cold it is for these two people out there; that's kind of what we're dealing with in this movie, so it was difficult, but it added to it."
All the freakish ghosts will haunt the big screen when Wind Chill opens in theaters April 27th.