Sunday, May 26, 2013

Icy May (& SyFy vs The Mynd): Yeti: Curse of the Snow Demon (2008)

We agents of M.O.S.S. defy your oppressive assumptions about seasons in the northern hemisphere. To prove you (yes you!) wrong, May will be all about ice, snow and everything cold for us. Everything is better in winter, after all. This time around, I take a look at yet another SyFy movie. To my defence: it was the closest Yeti movie I hadn't watched.

A US college football team is on its way to Japan for some sort of big college football match (don't say the script doesn't start on improbable sounding excuses early). Alas, a digital storm - those are really bad for digital planes, let me tell you - hits at a bad moment, and their plane crashes high in the Himalayas. You know, the part of the Himalayas that's too high for helicopters to work but that's full of pretty Canadian looking trees quite above the actual tree line. This, as we have already learned from a pre-credit sequence, is also the part of the Himalayas where Yetis live.

However, before our heroes - star quarterback Peyton (Marc Menard), training assistant or whatever Sarah (Carly Pope), mandatory jerk Ravin (Adam O'Byrne) and assorted hangers-on - will encounter the hairy menace, they'll have to cope with their own inadequacies as plane crash survivors, namely a total inability to keep fires of a decent size going even though their plane crash site is right next to a whole lot of trees, their crap hunting skills (only one rabbit dies during their stay; and they're actually hunting for the elusive Himalayan squirrel), and the fact that jerk face Ravin is already talking cannibalism when we're just halfway into the movie and before he has even eaten the chocolate he's hidden away; I blame Alive for the latter.

So, even without the irritable and always hungry Yetis, survival chances for what goes as "our heroes" are pretty slim.

On the positive side, there's a rescue operation under way. However, because there's just no room for minor actors when the principals are already bad enough, said operation consists of two people (Ona Grauer and Peter DeLuise) hiking through the area, which isn't exactly the sort of thing I'd hope for from my rescue operations.

So yeah, as you may have already surmised reading the above, Yeti is one of those SyFy movies where nobody bothered to apply even those parts of simple logic to the script that wouldn't have cost them a penny, a problem that hits the film particularly hard during its first half when our protagonists are mostly occupied with a not very clever child's idea of survival. It's one thing to have people act incompetent in dangerous situations - a football team isn't after all where you'd look for survival specialists - but it's quite another to pretend that they're making any kind of effort when clearly they don't. In this regard, it also isn't exactly helpful that the film - directed by the usually at least decent Paul Ziller - never manages to sell the dangerous circumstances the characters supposedly find themselves in as more dangerous than a camping trip in British Columbia. All this - and the not exactly great acting - makes it quite difficult to take the characters' plight in any way seriously, even when one is willing, as I generally am, to make certain allowances for low budget affairs like this. Discussions on the "don't eat my dead brother" level don't exactly help there.

Consequently, Yeti is at its best - or at least its most entertaining - whenever it doesn't attempt to be a low budget version of Alive and wallows in its other identity as a low budget Yeti movie, the sort of thing where a character uses a ripped off arm as a splint, Yetis (by the way mostly realized via suitmation that's just as problematic as the more SyFy-typical CGI) jump like rascally rabbits, and the best way to get rid of them is the old concrete shoe trick. That part of the movie is really rather entertaining, particularly since Ziller does know how to film silly monster action quite well.

Yeti is even willing to teach its audience something new about its titular monster, namely, that all a Yeti truly wants is to abduct a cute human girl to cuddle up to at night (Mrs Yeti seems okay with it). Also, Yetis snore.

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