Think about your favorite movie. In your opinion, what makes it a great movie? Is it the acting? The storyline? The impression it left on you? A good movie will have three things: a good story, an overarching theme, and the ability to make you care about its characters. An okay movie has two of these things. A bad movie, such as the movie we will be reviewing today, Christmas Icetastrophe, has one or fewer of these things.
Christmas Icetastrophe, released in 2014 exclusively for the Syfy channel, takes place in the tiny mountain town of Lennox, located somewhere in northern Washington. It is Christmastime, and during the Christmas parade, a meteor hits the town and freezes everything it touches. Santa Claus tries to help somebody and unfortunately flash-freezes to death. It truly is an icetastrophe. Grad student Alex Novak, played by Jennifer Spence, goes to investigate the meteor, but is stopped on her way into town by car trouble. Fortunately, main character Charlie Ratchet, played by Victor Webster, is here to save her, which he does by inviting her into his car and they proceed to try and outrun the flash freeze heading towards them. When they run out of land, they get into a motorboat and race the freeze across a lake. As the movie goes on, Charlie and Alex team up to try and investigate why exactly a meteor is turning the town of Lennox into a second Ice Age. Meanwhile, on the teenager side of things, Charlie’s son, Tim (played by Richard Harmon) and his forbidden love, daughter of the town’s resident robber baron, Marley Crooge (played by Tiera Skovbiye), get lost in the storm and attempt to seek shelter. Subverting classical tropes of cozy Christmas movies, in Christmas Icetastrophe, almost everyone dies. Both Team Adult and Team Teenager have many obstacles in their quest for safety; at one stressful point in the movie, helicopters are sent to rescue both parties, but they are destroyed by sudden spikes of ice rising from the ground. At long last, Alex and Charlie discover that the meteor broke into two parts when it entered the atmosphere and the only way to stop the cataclysmic weather spreading all over the globe is to join the two parts together again. How they came to this conclusion is unclear, because that’s certainly not real science. Tim and Marley’s story is not wrapped up in any satisfying way: there is no conclusion to how their families react to their forbidden love, just that they are alive at the end of the icetastrophe. Has this summary made you care about this movie any more? There are too many plotholes to track and none of this story is believable at all.
Sometimes, a movie with a bad story can be saved by excellent acting. Perhaps that is why the writers collected some of the finest Vancouver has to offer. Richard Harmon is now known for his work on The 100, but he at the time he was probably best known for his role on Continuum as a teenage mass-murderer. In Icetastrophe, he plays a very normal teenager with no depth whatsoever, though he tries his best with what he’s given. His most memorable and convincing line is to his girlfriend, Marley, as they hike down a snow-covered mountain. “If we get there,” he tells her. “It’s hot cocoa for real. I promise.” His girlfriend, played by Tira Skovbiye gives her best as well, screaming and flailing as the script must call for, which is ultimately ineffective against the encroaching ice and the viewer must wonder what on earth she thinks she’s doing, but later Skovbiye will go on to star as the haunting Polly on the CW’s Riverdale, so she really does have talent. Victor Webster and Jennifer Spence are both alumni of Continuum as well, with Spence playing a spy for time travellers and Webster playing one of Vancouver’s two police officers. Spence is exceptional in Continuum and more recently, she does well in the Netflix science fiction drama Travellers, but in Christmas Icetastrophe she talks very fast and her attempt at a reaction to a growing icepocalypse is to look very puzzled and annoyed. Webster plays the same Strong Man cookie cutter character in everything he’s ever been in, including Continuum, with varying degrees of facial hair. It is important to remember that acting often relies as much on directing and a script as much as an actor’s talent; talent alone cannot save a film.
There is nothing to be gained from watching Christmas Icetastrophe besides the passing of two hours and six minutes. There is no moral to be gained that could be applied to your everyday life. It does not show the value of teamwork, nor does it emphasize the importance of relying on yourself. It starts the metaphor of the Christmas Story by naming some of its characters the same (Marley for Jacob Marley, Tim Rachet for Tiny Time, the Crooges as shoo-ins for the Scrooges, Alex Novak as a ‘new’ character because ‘Novak’ means ‘new’), but fails to go anywhere with this metaphor. Perhaps it could have made a statement about how even forbidden love prevails over giant ice disasters, but Marley and Tim never even kiss on-screen or seem to be anything other than be very good friends. Nor do they ever mention their friends and family who died along the way, nor do they seem affected by it at all. Thus, there is no overarching theme, which would not have saved this terrible movie from being a terrible movie, but would have given me something interesting to write about at least.
In conclusion, Icetastrophe is one of the worst movies ever made. There are no redeeming qualities, unless you like the actors’ other work and an to see them in something incredibly dumb, or if you’re a collector of weather-related disaster movies. It is my favorite movie ever. There’s just no accounting for taste.