100 Below Zero (2013)

REVIEW BY: Jeffrey Long


Company:  The Asylum

Runtime: 90 mins

Format: Online Streaming Via Space Channel

Plot: When a chain of volcanic eruptions rips through Europe, the enormous ash cloud blocks out the sun, plunging the continent into a new ice age. An American couple must find their college-aged kids and get them out of Paris before it freezes over.

Review: There's nothing like coming home from a long and hard day at work to find out that an upcoming movie from your favorite B-Movie production company has hit the online interwebs early, for free and legally, via the website for the TV channel Space, Canada's affiliate for SyFy. This great revelation was brought to my attention via the lovely Shannon The Movie Moxie so really, it's just as much because of her that I'm able to bring you this early review of 100 Degrees Below Zero (or just simply 100 Below Zero as some sites call it – not really sure which is the official one, seeing as how Asylum's own website and IMDB each list a different version of the title) as it is Space for putting it up in the first place. If you live in Canada, you can head on over to here to check that out (For a limited time, and with a few commercial breaks), but if you live outside Canada the link is probably Region-Locked and thus you'll have to wait for the official DVD/BluRay release on June 11th.

Now first off, I'm sure I'm not the only one to find it weird that Asylum is releasing a winter disaster movie in the middle of summer. Like seriously, that seems like a missed opportunity to not release this kind of movie in the winter, where the natural ambiance of wet snow beating against your windows while watching this could add that bit of extra oomph. As it is, I'm also not usually a fan of Asylum's disaster movies, and after Age of Dinosaurs earlier this month set the bar for my expectations when it comes to future Asylum movies, 100 Degrees Below Zero had quite a few hurdles to jump over for me.  


A good way to win me over is to have a good and well-acted cast, and that is one thing this movie can proclaim it has loud and proud. We have the always-entertaining John Rhys-Davies as a military General that's keeping an eye on this weird weather phenomenon and in charge of evacuating all the important people of the area. Most people know him from Lord of the Rings, B-Movie fans know him from plenty of SyFy movies like Sabertooth and the later Anaconda sequels, but I will forever know him as The Professor from Sliders – Long live Sliders! It was nice to see a military General in one of these movies actually be a nice guy and not the stereotypical asshole they tend to be in these things, so props for that. It also helped that John Rhys-Davies was actually laugh-out-loud funny at times, especially with his perpetual shock at pretty much any news that was delivered to him – the guy can rock these kinds of movies all day and night, and make every last minute of his screen time enjoyable.

We also have Jeff Fahey (Lost, The Eden Formula, last year's SyFy movie Alien Tornado, Operation Delta Force) once again taking up the role of a pilot, which is quite the nice treat for those of us who are die-hard Lost fans, along with Sara Malakul Lane (Sharktopus, Asylum's 12/12/12, the upcoming Jurassic Block) as his daughter and a couple pretty unknowns as Jeff Fahey's son and new wife, but the fact that they are unknowns is not a testament to their acting as, much like with the others I've mentioned, they were actually surprisingly good actors. Jeff Fahey's kids here are college-age and are actually going to university in Paris, which pleasantly surprised me as that for once, the main focus of this movie is actually not in the U.S. but in France. Normally these kinds of movies (Asylum-made or not) take place in the U.S.A., so it was a nice change from the norm to have this take place largely in Paris. The actors for his kids also had great chemistry together which made their scenes that much more fun to watch, even though Sara Malakul Lane's accent kept slipping in and out, but I can overlook that as she was better then I expected, plus she's just an overall adorable cutie. There are other people and characters in the movie, but they're all pretty crappy to be honest, and pretty much exactly what you would expect from a movie like this.

In all honesty though, it's quite impressive that the acting is as good as it is, because what they're given to work with isn't much – the dialog they have to spew is just painful to listen to, because it's so unrealistic and just not how real people talk. Sentences are very awkwardly-structured, and more often then not filled with piles upon piles of run-on exposition that is not even delivered in any realistic fashion. I can overlook that if it was only in a couple scenes, but the majority of the movie is filled with that, so I'm amazed the actors did such a great job with such crappy dialog.


But the real reason B-Movie fans would be watching a movie like this isn't for the actors or dialog – sure, when those things turn out good, it's an extra bonus, but the real reason people tune into these things are for the fun scenes of disasters. Well...we kind of actually don't get a whole lot of those with this one – For the first hour of this short hour and a half movie, all we get is one scene of some falling hail of larger-then-normal proportions (which admittedly comes with a fun beat of Sara Malakul Lane soccer-kicking one away), and a small earthquake....

...And that's it

We do see the aftermath of some major big destruction, but we never actually get to see it happen on-screen, which is a major cop-out seeing as how that's the kind of stuff people are wanting to see in a movie like this. Even during that final half-hour, we don't get much more then that, just one scene of some rushing water flooding a tunnel and a bit of really high wind for the climax that knocks over the Eiffel Tower, and nothing more then that. Hell, the title isn't even accurate! For a movie titled 100 Below Zero, the main characters roam the 'destroyed' city in nothing more then t-shirts for the majority of the time, with not even their breath showing! 100 Degrees Below Zero, my ass.

As for the special effects for these very few scenes of disaster, well they're a mixed bag. Some are better then others, but overall they're not the worst I've seen from this company but they're also nowhere near the best either. The falling hailstones and rushing water was decent, but there was also some truly terrible green-screen work going on in some scenes, even scenes that didn't really require it as there wasn't even anything going on in terms of disasters, just a couple characters walking down a street. Even the scenes where the CGI was decent, such as in the aforementioned moments, it was just kind of a bit of wasted effort since the scenes are so few and far between, and only last about 60 seconds or so.


My anticipation wasn’t very high for this title, but I still had a smidgeon of hope that maybe it would be better then the other recent Asylum disaster movies like Super Cyclone, 40 Days and Nights, or 500 MPH Storm. While this movie certainly had a better, more well-acted cast then any of those, and that cast all had great chemistry with one another, plus the film started off seeming like it would be a better movie at the beginning, but it ended up loosing all of the leeway by having a boring script with no really fun disaster scenes, and hardly any disaster scenes, period, which is the one thing those other movies actually did kind of well, even if their effects work wasn't the greatest for those scenes. Add to that the annoyingly atrocious dialog and this is yet another Asylum-made disaster flick that can probably just be skipped.

3/10 rooms in the Psych Ward


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