Global warming. Whether it is caused by greenhouse gas emissions or is a natural phenomenon, global warming is used by the media and politicians to effect economic change. Corporations can also use it for their own ends, to further genetic testing and other scientific discoveries. Hank Braxtan’s brilliant horror movie, Unnatural is an example of corporate research gone awry.
Set deep in the snowy wastelands of Alaska, a photographer (Ron Carlson), his assistant and two female models are on a photo shoot when their base camp is overrun by a polar bear. With only four hours of daylight each day, it is up to the base camp leader, Martin (James Remar, 48 Hrs.), working with his staff to avoid panic while trying to radio for help. Also starring Graham Greene, Ray Wise and Sherilyn Fenn, Unnatural is a fun, but tense ride that starts with the opening frame and never lets up.
The story, written by Ron Carlson (screenplay by Arch Stanton) is chock-full of horror movie cliches of the past. The pace of the story with genuinely humorous moments and Braxtan’s eye for detailed camera work allow the cliches to gel the story together nicely. Marc Carter’s cinematography makes effective use of the snow-bound landscape.
Supporting the camerawork is the brilliant effects work of Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr. and their company Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc. Bringing their extensive stop-motion effects work to this production was a stroke of genius, adding a level of vibrancy to an otherwise bleak looking film, owing to its winter locations.
Rounding out this fantastic movie is a brilliant score by Edwin Wendler. His elegant and understated themes are utilized throughout the movie to heighten the tension and are startlingly effective. Even with a short 89 minute running time, the music fills the entire movie, whether through quiet atmospherics or during action scenes, owing to Nick Campbell and Michael Crosby’s excellent sound design.
Unnatural is not for every one. Those who genuinely love horror movies or physical special effects movies will find much to like about it. The movie is currently on most video on demand services (Amazon, iTunes, etc) and has a very limited theatrical exhibition. Seeing the movie on a big screen with popcorn and a crowd really amped up the effect that Braxtan and team were going after. And they were successful.