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This’ll be a short one, folks, since there just isn’t much
to say about a flick that ignores every possible bit of entertainment that
could be had watching people trapped in a sauna. What we’re presented with is a
movie featuring taut young folks who have been spritzed down or smeared with
oil to resemble sweat, panting their lines in scene after scene.
Yeah, that’s really all the movie (out on DVD and Blu-ray
from Anchor Bay) is. Hotties get trapped in hot room—and they talk, freak out,
try to escape, talk more, then there’s a reveal at the end that makes you sad
you stuck it out instead of turning it off. This is an extraordinary example of
an in-one-eye-and-out-the-other cinematic experience. There is no sense of claustrophobia, and not a single cast
member can sell the notion that they are actually cooking alive. There is that
twist at the end, but it’s so ridiculous that you’re instantly reminded of
other absurd shit that has occurred during the previous running time, which
will make you angry.
I’m not sure what compelled Travis Van Winkle to take the
role of Ian, since he’s a devastatingly annoying character. He’s the guy who
has all the answers and works the hardest to get them out. He’s the one who
explains to the others what happens to the human body when it’s overheated, for
example. I watched as this man took a rock from the steam pile (ha) in the
sauna and tried to break the small but thick glass window in the door (see
cover art). His plan is to break the window, then put a rock inside a towel and
try to swing it like a pendulum to pop the door’s handle open. That doesn’t
work after four attempts or so, which causes him to give up and breathlessly
continue delivering informative dialogue. Not frustrating enough for you? Then
ask yourself why he bloodied his bare hand all to hell while smashing the rock
against the glass instead of wrapping it up in the towel for protection. Still
not pissed at this person? He sits down afterward and rips the towel apart to
bandage his hand. Never again does he try the not-too-bad rock-pendulum trick,
and if he wanted to, he couldn’t because he has ruined the towel.
You’ve just read an entire paragraph about my distress over
the use of a towel in a horror movie. I think that’s a good place to stop,
because if you’re still considering renting or buying this thing, you deserve
to discover the rest for yourself. And no, this is not a beer-and-friends flick
to be played with. Moving on the features!
We get a commentary with director/producer Levan Bakhia. It
comes as no surprise that every shot in the sauna was visually fixed up in
post—surely a contributing factor as to why not one scene comes across as
authentically hot or uncomfortable. Cinematographer Vigen Vartanov’s outdoor
photography is impressive, so again, having talent on hand just to sit around
in a phony sauna is pretty damn aggravating. Overall, Bakhia is earnest
and serious about his debut project, but it’s very hard to care because he’s
discussing this film. In fact, he seems so pleased with the outcome, and has
such a great attitude about the stresses and rewards that come with such an
undertaking, the track is equal parts humbling and frustrating. I was left
hoping Bakhia chooses a better project for his next venture; this kind of
enthusiasm ought not to be wasted on such silly material.
A few deleted scenes are also provided. They, on the other
hand, made me feel absolutely nothing.
DVD/ Blu-ray Reviews
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