247°F (2011) Review

247Ffilm

4 friends, go to stay in a luxury cabin, owned and built by one of their uncles.
Before heading to a nearby festival, they decide to use the cabin’s sauna, but the door jams, and the controls are on the outside. With the uncle out for the night, water running low, and the temperature rising, it’s up to the group to find a way to survive.

Supposedly based on a true story (probably “someone once got locked in a sauna for a while”), 247°F takes its title from the temperature at which flesh literally melts – making the title a possible reference, of sorts, to Bradbury’s ‘Fahrenheit 451’; story about book burning, named for the temperature at which paper combusts.

What the movie gets right, is having an array of things the group can try. They can access the thermostat, for instance (although not the controls), the heater of course is in the room with them, and so fourth. This is exploited to the fullest by having someone intelligent in the mix – the main guy weighs up the pros and cons of every plan the group can think of.

Where the movie goes wrong, is on the character front. One of the girls we learn nothing about, the other was in a car crash last year, although this serves little purpose, besides making her slightly (and intermittently) claustrophobic. In fact, aside from the aforementioned intelligent group member, the rest are pretty much interchangeable.

Another big mistake, although I can see why the writers fell into the trap, is an attempt at a mislead. It’s so clumsy that I really don’t think blowing it here is a spoiler, but if you’re especially spoiler-phobic, you might want to skip the next paragraph, suffice to say the time spent ham-fistedly trying to fool the audience would have been better spent on character development.

It is implied that the uncle has deliberately locked them in… Not only is this mislead pointless within the story, it’s also utterly unconvincing. Anyone who’s ever seen a movie with a false lead can’t see the constant “look! He’s up to something, but you can’t quite tell what!” cutaways, and not immediately see the attempt at falsely building some intrigue for what it is.

The lighting is excellent, conveying the increasing heat by gradually turning up the warmth in the colours. Unfortunately, towards the end of the movie, one of the group’s attempts to stop the heat results in the lights going out, plunging them into darkness as the temperature reaches its highest. From a visual perspective, this doesn’t work at all, as a dark picture looks cold.

Frankly, the lack of characterisation killed this one for me; in a movie spent mostly in one place, with a small group of people, those people are everything… Here, I just didn’t feel their plight.

An occasion like this calls for mead!

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