Thawing Out

Centigrade works, but then it ends. That ending reveals Centigrade’s logical pitfall, and that yes, the solution to this trapped-in-snow drama was that obvious.

A single location thriller needs a basis to keep the protagonist(s) stuck. Say, a sniper outside of a window, a locked vault, or in Frozen’s (2010) case, height and hungry wolves. In Centigrade it’s six inches of snow on top of Matt (Vincent Piazza) and Naomi’s (Genesis Rodriguez) car. Not once do they consider smashing the sun roof.

Credit is due for creatively staging the camera, keeping repetition low

It’s staged as a marital drama, where the personal issues and secrets bubble to the surface. In that, Centigrade works, Piazza and Rodriguez convincingly a couple, veering between calm and anger. Outbursts stem partly from the situation’s tension, but based in their lives and fracturing relationship. To Centigrade’s credit, that character core functions as intended, intelligently structured as to continually raise the agitation as the days – then weeks – pass.

Yet, they never break the sunroof, or even suggest it. These two make it difficult to care when there’s a glaring distraction over their heads.

The more time passes, the worse the situation becomes, and the stupider these two look. Starving and dehydrated, Naomi gives birth, adding to the woes. Yet they sit. Matt refuses to dig out, which at first seems reasonable. They don’t know their precise locale or whether anyone is around, so waiting makes sense; keep the body heat flowing inside, not the Norwegian chill from outside. After hearing activity around the car, they still lock down. Then, a snowplow. Still, they stay. When Naomi’s instincts kick in, shattering a driver side window… they don’t leave.

Credit is due for creatively staging the camera, keeping repetition low. Cinematography finds attractive angles and framing devices deserving notice. The way this camera sells tension through focus, distance, or lighting is admirable.

But all they need to do is break that window, which is too often in frame, exposing the stupid.

Video

Given the circumstances, which includes nearly every shot taking place within a snowed in car, the lacking contrast is expected. Overall black levels avoid anything near pure black, instead settling into a murkier gray/brown. Forget any real brightness aside from candlelight. Not even the exterior snow brings much energy. Muted, and entirely so.

Transferred from a digital source, the primary issue is banding. Severe, constant banding. The light shadows reveal some, but that’s not the only cause. Every gradient suffers. It’s awful. Muted colors already impose a limitation, and the gradients between them only worsen things.

Given all this, fidelity isn’t high. Facial detail’s restricted presence comes and goes, even considering Centigrade is shot mostly in close-up.The look is akin to 1080p, not a downsample from 2K. That’s only going by eye though.

Audio

Consider the design is stuck inside a car, and the DTS-HD 5.1 track surprises. Exterior winds reach the rear channels, even punch into the low-end. Dialog doesn’t move from the center.

Moving outside, a passing snowplow drops some bass via its engines. It pans too, rushing to the sides as it goes. Considering how small scale this is overall, there’s more happening than expected.

Extras

Trailers. That’s all.

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Centigrade
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Movie

Not always exciting and even moronic, Centigrade still finds tension by forcing a strained marriage into a claustrophobic setting.

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