Vast open fields of snow bring to mind iconic scenes of cinema from Fargo, to The Shining, to The Thing and though those would be extremely lofty goals to attain, blankets of white powder are always an asset to cinematography and is a welcome site with the opening of The Chrysalis. Written and directed by Matt Kravitsky, two sisters find themselves stranded with a flat tyre and the option of either freezing to death or hiding in an abandoned warehouse, striking up a spontaneous friendship with the runaway who’s inhabiting it.
Although the snow is kind on the eyes, it isn’t as kind to Liza (Maggie Wetzel) and Megan (Nicole Paige Chaffin), it seems only logical to choose the uncertainty of a warehouse over certain death in below zero temperatures and remains one of few logical choices these girls make, but is doomed not to work out in their favour. After entering the warehouse they quickly realise that they’re not alone, enter Adam (Brian Dole), who makes quite the impression.
In the brief journey before their flat tyre, the sisters’ differences are made abundantly clear, through the choices of clothing, make-up (or lack thereof), posture and most importantly sexual experience, it is an overt foreshadowing of things to come that lacks in the subtlety department. Wetzel’s look and attitude feel reminiscent of Jessica Rothe in Happy Death Day but sadly she’s not as resilient or strong of a character, instead coming across as flimsy and Chaffin’s Megan has little more complexity to offer.
The strongest element of the film by far is the choice of locations, shooting within the warehouse adds a great deal to its production value and the story itself, the film would be at a loss without it. The writing sadly doesn’t live up to that strength, the characters make choices that are problematic, even taking into consideration the free pass that horror films receive, there are the classic “don’t go in there” and “no, it’s not a good idea to split up” that we look past but this goes beyond that exception. As the film turns to its final chapters, some of the choices stretch the boundaries of believable and dampen the mood.
While its intentions are honourable and it’s plain to see what the film was going for, opting to make the female leads overly susceptible to horrible decision making (you have to hope that most women out there would have a touch better common sense) makes its finale less satisfying. Attempting a darker atmosphere and a less rose hue to the visual would have added an extra layer of tension, giving the events a kick to their emphasis. What promised to be a familiar but nonetheless entertaining outing, misses the mark.
Verdict: 4/10 | ✯✯