Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wyvern (2009)

Turning up the heat in Alaska

A large creature awakens from its slumber in a glacier after temperatures warm near a northern Alaskan town called Beaver Mills with a population just over 300...and slowly dwindling. After a serious of deadly accidents in the woods the Chief of police holds a town meeting to report that a predatory "something" was seen flying through the air to everyone's disbelief and annoyance that the town's festival is threatening to be canceled as a result. Speculation is in the air and nothing's set in stone just yet until that something makes a surprise appearance in the open at the worst time when everyone's exposed. It's called a "Wyvern": a dragon from Nordic legend that feasts on a bottomless pit of men's flesh.

The story is somewhat loose after the creature appears and makes everyone scramble in a panic from not knowing what to do till more of a game plan is implemented from learning its weaknesses. They wing it, so a few coincidences come up but these are made out to be real people instead of instinctively combative or over-the-top cinematic by doing complex and impossible maneuvers. Communications are out, escape routes are blocked and for a share of the film they're desperately held up in the diner in the center of town hoping to outsmart an age old beast that only knows how to do one thing: kill. The creature has a one track mind but still keeps it a challenging sport the way it manages to pick off people by hiding and lunging out or adapting the way it hunts.

The atmosphere is somewhat light with its thrills and kept fun than overly serious or nail bitting tension filled. People are killed and the reaction is: "Do that again! But next time bloodier!" Though once the group gets narrowed down to a select few, this reveals some quirky characters and light hearted situations to personalize them. Nick Chinlund, who plays Jake the former truck driver/main hero, managed to pull out an effectively moving scene amongst the playfulness and carnage about his past and what it means for him to stay in the small town. Erin Karpluk, as Claire the waitress, is the second lead with an eye for Jake and an easy going but tough attitude when it calls for it. To its benefit, the filmmakers managed to put together a cast that an audience doesn't mind becoming familiar with for the entire duration. There's the perverted female deputy, radio DJ, old redneck with tales of legends, war veteran who likes his guns, batty old lady who imagines people and others that come and go. The performances are mostly spot on, with a few hiccups here and there, though they still manage to take the movie with measure despite the premise being somewhat outlandish.

"Wyvern" is an easy made-for-TV movie that uses a template that's been done before and knows its plot is ridiculous. Yet they don't even try and hide that fact by taking it too somberly to the point of stepping over its worth or making it overly dramatic. It's still a sincere delivery that's enough to maintain a steady pacing and some charging power that one can get engaged in for a simple bored afternoon diversion where monsters are terrorizing poor, unsuspecting souls and you're sitting comfortably in your living room with a bowl of popcorn.

Rating: 6.5/10

Director: Steven R. Monroe (House of 9, It Waits, Left in Darkness)
Stars: Nick Chinlund, Erin Karpluk, Don S. Davis, Tinsel Korey, Barry Corbin
Link: IMDB

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