In the way of a viewer advisory, let me suggest a list of people who should definitely NOT watch Centigrade:
· Anyone claustrophobic
· Anyone suffering from depression or borderline psychological depression
· Anyone suffering from stress-related anxiety
· Anyone with an aversion to extreme cold or freezing temperatures
· Couples experiencing discord in their current relationship
You see, Centigrade is an intensely dramatic story inspired by real events.
In a nutshell, it’s about a young married couple traveling in Norway as part of a book signing tour.
While driving one night, in the middle of nowhere, a raging blizzard forces them to pull off the road.
The movie opens with them waking up the morning afterward, wondering where they are and how they got there.
What they do know is that the rented station wagon type vehicle is completely encased in ice and snow.
They can’t open the doors. They can’t roll down the windows.
And they can’t call for help since they are in a remote area with apparently no phone signal.
It doesn’t take them long to assess the seriousness of their predicament.
They have a couple bottles of bottled water and a little food to eat, including a herring sandwich. The rental car thankfully has some emergency blankets, candles and matches.
They seem fine for the short term until help can arrive.
But they worry that no one may be aware that they are missing or have any idea of where to even begin to look for them.
It’s a lot to process.
Add to all that the fact that the young woman is in the late stages of pregnancy. It's a lot to deal with.
And it becomes clear that this couple would have difficulty getting along with each other even on a relatively good day.
Their dire circumstances here quickly push them over the brink and into nasty exchanges of blame and anger.
Other movies have dealt with being stranded and in need of rescue.
At the core of these stories is the terrifying nightmare of finding yourself in a life threatening situation with little or no hope of being rescued.
Resourcefulness and the sheer will to live become the key factors to survival.
In this case, the challenges include trying to stay warm, while being trapped in a virtual freezer on four wheels.
In addition to that, there are the issues of eating and drinking and even the problem of going to the bathroom (where there is no bathroom).
It’s an unnerving nightmare in a very confined space.
Their hope of being quickly found quickly fades.
After that, it’s one dilemma after another in a spiraling, hellish experience that goes from bad to worse, to way, way worse.
It’s torturous, not just for the young couple, but for the audience suffering through their suffering vicariously.
To their credit, actors Vincent Piazza and Genesis Rodriguez make you feel and experience their characters’ pain and agony.
It’s a two-person show, a great challenge for the talent as well as director Brendon Walsh and a production crew faced with the task of taking their viewers inside a trapped car for the better part of 98 minutes.
Dramatically, it’s intense, no doubt about it.
But it is also excruciating. And exhausting. And very difficult to watch.
It’s agonizing, particularly in the era of COVID-19 when we might have enough drama in our lives already and might opt not to watch two trapped people suffer in frigid temperatures.
Centigrade is raw drama with no sugar coating.
Be forewarned. It is a sobering portrayal of what it might be like to be trapped in the freezing, inescapable, claustrophobic confinement.
On that level, the film works. The question is: in the context of current events, will moviegoers want to subject themselves to this form of nerve-wrenching, vicarious torture?
Centigrade is in theaters and On Demand August 28.
Photos Courtesy of IFC Midnight