In the German Alps, a group of scientists are researching the melting glaciers. One day they discover something strange with a glacier. It's red and it seems to be made out of something organic. Their discovery doesn't end there. The glacier is affecting the animals around, mutating them into hungry beasts.
We all love a good monster movie. But when we think of modern monster movies, what do we get? Syfy Channel and The Asylum quality is basically it, if you're not counting something like "Pacific Rim". It's depressing, really, and many discussions about monster movies end with the same questions: "What happened?" and "Why can't they make them like they used to?". Let me introduce "Blutgletscher" (English title "The Station", but direct translation is "Blood Glacier"), an Austrian monster movie. I expected something like the Russian movie "Spores", because that's just how little I trust modern filmmaking is. But what I got was actually a great, fun and captivating ride in the vein of the 80s.
Up in the German Alps there is a station of scientists that researches the melting glaciers. Every year they switch the people, because it's hard for any normal human to live up there longer than a year. Except for Janek, he's been there for 5 years and has no reason to leave. He has everything he needs right there - his job and his dog Tinnitus. They've stayed there ever since his girlfriend, Tanja, left the station years ago. Janek doesn't know that Tanja is about to come visit along with a man from the Ministry and his wife. Unfortunately, just as they are about to visit, the research team discovers something strange with a glacier. It appears to be organic, and it mutates the surrounding wildlife into monsterous hybrids. Janek realizes the severity of the situation after being attacked by a fox-beetle hybrid, and he must warn the visitors before it's too late.
You heard that right, a fox-beetle hybrid. That's just one of the several amazingly creepy hybrids in the movie, my favorite being a large monster ibex (which I can't remember what else it was mutated with - perhaps a fly and something else). "Blutgletscher" has some damn great monster moments that really remind you of the 80s. The story and location will surely remind you of "The Thing" as well, which isn't too far off. "Blutgletscher" never reaches the heights of "The Thing", obviously, because it's rather generic in many ways. It does beat most of the modern monster movies, however.
Most of the effects are great and, luckily, practical. There are some scenes that most definitely are CGI, but not enough to ruin the movie or the mood. It's not overly gory, but it has a few nasty moments, and the hybrids themselves are great. They keep them visible enough to show us what it is, but never shows too much, which is good. The effects are good, but even good effects lose their touch if we're shown too much of it.
Okay, it's a good monster movie because it has creepy looking monsters and good effects. But what made it better is that I really loved the lead character Janek (perfectly played by Gerhard Liebmann) and his relationship to the dog and Tanja. We actually care about these characters (dog included) and there are emotional moments between them that worked extremely well. That alone made this a better monster movie than almost any I have seen in the past few years.
It's a good movie, but it comes with some flaws or minor details that didn't work. It's definitely trying to point something out with the glaciers and how we need to think about what we are doing, but that message is pretty weak. It serves more as a startup point for the filmmaker instead of actually carrying through with it. It's fine with me, but it's hard not to notice it. Another point that weakened it a lot for me was the ending. The climax doesn't feel like a climax at all. A solid scene, sure, but it's a very small climax that was almost surpassed by previous scenes, and it leaves us hanging a bit. We were ready for way more. The climax is followed by a very absurd final scene that I really don't know if I liked for bizarre reasons, or hated for stupid reasons.
A somewhat poor ending didn't make me hate the movie, I still think it's a great monster movie that blew my expectations out of the water. It has a great cast and main characters, awesome monsters and mostly great special effects (minus some CGI), the location is atmospheric as hell and it's just one great ride. It has comic relief, but it has just as many heartbreaking moments, which became an invaluable aspect of the movie for me. It's hard to find a monster movie where you actually care about your lead - and his dog. "Blutgletscher" is not in the league with movies like "The Thing" because it's a far more traditional monster movie, but it's the closest we've gotten in many years. If you love monster movies then you'd be a moron to skip this one, it's just one hell of a solid movie.