Blood Glacier (2013) review

Blood Glacier posterDirector: Marvin Kren

Starring: Gerhard Liebmann, Edita Malovcic, Brigitte Kren

Also known as: The Station

“Maybe the legends of wolfmen and mermaids are based on biological realities. Maybe the Egyptian god of the dead, Anubis, really was a human being with a jackal’s head.” (Birte, Blood Glacier)

When the DVD cover of a film has a quote comparing it to a classic, you’d be right to feel a little suspicious. Blood Glacier’s cover, for example, suggests it’s like legendary John Carpenter sci-fi horror film The Thing. And this would have been accurate, had The Thing been deeply average.

Set in the German Alps, the film focuses on a group of researchers working in a tiny lab as they research glacial reduction and how it affects climate change. Obviously this subject matter isn’t exactly likely to pump your nads, which is why Blood Glacier then throws a curveball in the shape of, well, a blood-coloured glacier.

Researcher Janek (Gerhard Liebmann) is out walking his dog when he comes across a large glacier leaking a red liquid. Investigating a nearby cave he finds a creature that attacks his dog, so both Janek and his canine companion leg it back to the lab to tell the others what happened.

"There was this big glacier, you see, and it was covered in... oh, you've already heard"
“There was this big glacier, you see, and it was covered in… oh, you’ve already heard”

It turns out the red stuff is an odd organic substance which is transforming the local wildlife into mutated beasts. What’s worse, there’s a VIP group from the Ministry on the way to check up on how the team’s research is going.

The introduction of the group adds a few more sub-plots to keep things interesting. For example, among the group is Tanja, Janek’s ex-lover who later reveals she was pregnant with his baby but had it aborted. Ouch.

Meanwhile, once the frozen shit hits the fan and all manner of mutated creatures start knocking on the lab door, the group dynamic begins to feel reminiscent to that of Night Of The Living Dead, with arguments and fights threatening to harm the residents before the mutants get a chance to.

By mentioning Romero’s zombie masterpiece though, I’ve just made the same mistake the DVD cover does. In no way does Blood Glacier come close to matching Night Of The Living Dead when it comes to studying themes of trust and co-operation within a group mechanic, partly because most of the characters are completely forgettable.

Fabien Barthez was livid at his new barber's shaving technique
Fabien Barthez was livid at his new barber’s shaving technique

The only stand-out performance, other than those of Janek and Tanja, is that of the Minister herself, played by Brigitte Kren (the director’s mother). Her character is a nasty piece of work and so does a good job of racketing up the tension in the lab. Other than that, though, it’s a fairly dull group.

Sadly, the creature effects are as humdrum as the performances. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great ideas here: mutated cockroaches, foxes, goats and eagles appear at various points throughout the film.

The problem is they look so unconvincing, ruining the tone of what’s supposed to be a serious film. Had The Thing featured creatures that looked like they were designed by a high school model-building club it wouldn’t have had the same chilling effect (if you’ll pardon the pun).

"There, I've done it. Next time, pop your own fucking zits"
“There, I’ve done it. Next time, pop your own fucking zits”

The final straw is the absolutely ridiculous ending, which is just beyond belief and will just have the audience thinking: “Seriously? How the fuck is that going to work?”

Spoiler warning: skip the next paragraph if you don’t want to find out what the ending is.

Earlier in the film, a pregnant woman succumbs to the organism and dies. At the end, after surviving the onslaught of mutant monsters and leaving us all in no doubt whatsoever that this organic thingy is a very bad thing, Janek and Tanja find her mutant baby, which looks disgusting and undoubtedly evil. Amazingly, they decide to adopt it as a replacement for the one she aborted, and leave on a helicopter with it. WHAT.

Do not be fooled by the hype, Blood Glacier is no more like The Thing than a pack of sausages is like Babe: Pig In The City. What it actually is, is a passable Austrian horror film that us perfectly watchable but drops the ball with disappointing regularity.


Blood Glacier got a DVD release in the UK last week, courtesy of Studiocanal. You can buy it here. Alternatively, it’s currently available (at the time of writing) to stream on LOVEFiLM.


2 thoughts on “Blood Glacier (2013) review

  1. Spoiler-spoiler. It actually was the dog’s baby. The dog ingested human blood from licking the protagonist outside the cave. It’s basically a human shaped puppy and you know how much women would love that. 😉

    (watch it again if you don’t believe’s the dog’s corpse they get the baby from)

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