In the dvd extras, screenwriter Steven Katz, who had previously written the fascinating Shadow of the Vampire (2000) and went onto write/produce the Soderbergh tv series The Knick (2014-5), describes Wind Chill as the attempt to create the worlds smallest ghost story all set within the location of a car stalled on the roadside. Although the camera does wander out of the car for some of the time, that does remain the sum of the film. Despite the simplicity of this as a concept, the extras also reveal that the shoot was a torturous one in remote parts of British Columbia where the crew had to haul machinery and lights to a small, constricted stretch of snowbound road and then replicate much of the same indoors.
As with most of Section Eights other films, Wind Chill stands above its competitors with an uncommon intelligence. Certainly, one welcomes Wind Chill among the dross of other genre material out there as it is a teen horror film, yet also manages to feature convincing and well-drawn characters and dialogue. Among the currently desiccated state of the horror genre, an intelligent teen horror film is as rare as hens teeth. British actress Emily Blunt in particular is warm, wry and credibly intelligent.
The sense of mood and atmosphere that Gregory Jacobs creates throughout is excellent. The opening of the film holds a considerable sense of foreboding the camera lingering on the bag of groceries left forgotten in the car park after the car departs, the gradual suggestion that Ashton Holmes might have creepy intent he making a comment that Emily Blunt looks good in her glasses even though she does not wear them outside her dorm, he appearing ignorant about the geography of the areas that he claims to come from. The snowbound locations have a haunting beauty.
Once Gregory Jacobs gets the car to the side of the road, Wind Chill sets in with a spooky and unearthly hold. There are some eerie jolts where Emily Blunt follows a figure in an oil slicker across the bridge, which then turns to her and vomits things forth from its mouth; the sinister hooded figures in black lurking around the periphery of the scene; and the scenes where they are harassed by Martin Donovans thuggish highway patrol officer who appears to want shakedown money, only for the scene to suddenly turn into something else altogether.
There is a slight disappointment when it is revealed that behind all this creepily mounted atmosphere we only have the run of the mill ghost story standard of the past replaying itself in the present. One kept expecting that the film would build to something more than that. Gregory Jacobs creates the odd shock that seems to be there more for the desire to throw in a gratuitous visceral jump than rely on the mood and atmosphere alone like where Martin Donovan keeps smashing through the car window in dreams or the burning Donovan freezes Ned Bellamy to death but other than that Wind Chill is a reasonable genre showing. Enough to let one know that the current state of the horror film is not in total disrepair.