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Jack Frost (1997)

'Jack Frost' opens with a one shot camera sequence in which a strange voice over provides us with all the stereotypical serial killer exposition we need. As cliché as this opening is, it's impressive the way the camera slowly pans around a Christmas tree with the cast and crews credits handwritten across baubles in various styles and fonts. This opening immediately shows us everything you need to know regarding the overall tone and quality of a film featuring a killer mutant snowman as its main antagonist. Firstly, I want to say how poorly constructed I found the set design to be in the majority of this film, especially those filmed during the day. It's very clear that this was not filmed in a snowy location and adding the odd blanket of cotton wool and poor spots of spray imitation snow on the windows only highlights this. I have to assume that the director was all too aware of how poor these shots look, due to him filming most of the day time scenes from a low angle so that the sky filled the backdrop. Thankfully this isn't as glaringly obvious once night falls, in part due to the cover of darkness, the clever use of heavy blue lighting and the array of Christmas light that help provide a seasonal tone to the films lack luster day scenes. The casting is to be as expected. Everyone here either under performs or over acts, there is no middle ground. That is with the exception of the lead protagonist and town Sheriff, Sam Tiler. Tiler, played by Christopher Allport, is leagues above his cast with his performance - certainly the most grounded and relatable in this production. The most recognisable cast member is Shannon Elizabeth, and if you are familiar with her work you can imagine how well she performs here in her first major acting role. Unexpectedly, I found the score and sound design to be oddly exceptional given the quality of this film. Taking numerous instantly recognisable Christmas carols, slowing them down to half speed, created one of the most eerie seasonal scores I have encountered. This is an element of 'Jack Frost' that is so well done yet wildly under utilised, unfortunately only being used a hand full of times throughout. Jack Frost as an antagonist is as wild in execution as he is in concept. Frost, played and voiced by Scott MacDonald, who gives his best Brad Dourif impression (one-liners and all), is actually rather entertaining as a killer - utilising the seasonal theme perfectly by having him slash his way through the town folk with various Christmas and snow related items. The snowman costume itself is rather ridiculous and looks similar to that of a man in a suit style of children's TV show, such as 'Barney the Dinosaur', or the 'Teletubbies'. Yet given how outlandish this looks, it does suit the overly silly nature of this film. One thing I can really appreciated this film for is it dependence on practical effects. Given how much easier it would have been to interject lazy CGI, 'Jack Frost' uses practical work, puppetry and stop-motion animation for all of its kills and all of the scenes involving Frost. That's not to say any of these effects are particularly great, in fact they couldn't be any further from great, but it adds that certain b-movie charm to the film that I find endearing. Frost's human form demise is a standout highlight for me early on in the film. The visual effects used to show him melting are very impressive. 'Jack Frost' came out in the golden years of straight to video horror movies that I love and adore. This is a film that is not to be taken seriously, it knows what it is and plays up to the troupes of its genre in a hilariously festive fashion. This is certainly not going to be for everyone, and I think you have to be a fan of this low budget, straight to video sub-genre in order to appreciate this film for what it was trying to achieve. It's an annual watch for me around the festive season.



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