DIRECTOR: Giorgio Serafini
WRITER: Garry Charles
Larry Wade Carrell
Ryan Hinds wakes up to find himself locked in a sealed industrial kiln. As Ryan comes to it, a voice appears over the intercom. The voice begins to tell Ryan that he has two hours to transfer a million dollars to a specified bank account. Every several minutes that he doesn't receive the money, the temperature will rise by three degrees. It will be a race against time to come up with the money. If he doesn't secure the requested amount, he must just end up getting cooked.
As I sat down to watch 200 Degrees. I knew this was going to be one of those films that was set in one location and it would basically be an hour and a half of one man being tortured under a set of heat lamps. I hadn't watched the trailer before sitting down to witness the movie, in hopes that I would be surprised but just going off the poster. I knew exactly what I was in for with this movie but still held out hope that this would deliver some solid shocks.
With a movie then spends an hour and a half with one actor and in one location. You have to cast an actor that can carry a film. Eric Balfour is a solid actor in my eyes. He will be most well known to people for being Jessica Biel's unlucky boyfriend in 2003's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake. He also does drama and action very well. He had reoccurring roles in Six Feet Under, 24 and Haven. He even bared all in the very graphic and sexual drama film Lie With Me. This guy is talented, so I expected to be drawn in by his performance.
For the first act of 200 Degrees. I was right there with Eric Balfour's Ryan. I actually felt sorry for the guy. He spends the first act pleading for his life. We see him slowly adapt to the nightmarish situation he has been thrust into and I was totally onboard and on his side. So for that first act, we are just getting to know the demands of the unknown and unseen voice and a terrified Ryan. The first act is where the film is the most interesting and most intense. After that, things fall apart.
The second act of the film shows Ryan trying to do anything possible to save his own life. He also breaks the rules several times. He makes calls to his police officer brother who tries to track his cell phone to no avail. He begs his parents for cash that he gave them. During the second act is where I caught onto the inevitable twist and eventual reveal. The movie only has a couple of characters who are unseen. You can see that Ryan is a man who has wronged or disappointed everyone he loves. It's not hard to guess. I'm shocked there is no curveball here. It all feels too easy.
Another problem with 200 Degrees is that as the film slogs along. We come to realise that Ryan isn't a very likable character. He steals money from his client, he takes back the money that he has given to his mother that pays for his sick father's care, and he also cheats on his wife who he has a child with. So everything they've built in making us want to see this character get out of this situation alive is thrown out the window immediately. I no longer cared for his character or if he got out of this situation. I couldn't care if he burned to death.
Once we get to the third act of the film and the twist is finally revealed. I knew who it was as I mentioned above. So there was no shock or surprise here. When the reason behind why the villain(s) have done this to Ryan, it is just so ludicrous. The motive is ridiculous. I almost laughed when they were trying to tell Ryan why they have done this to him. The movie also tries to then lay another twist down on top of the already silly twist that shows Ryan getting the upper hand and I was done at this point. I was just happy to see this film end.
Sadly, 200 Degrees isn't very intense. A movie where the only possible way of dying is being boiled and cooked to death. It really doesn't offer much else in terms of it delivering many original ways to hurt Ryan. I think this movie loses steam after the first act. Once we see the temperature rising, it becomes rather boring watching him race against time over and over again and seeing the villain try to scare him. After the first or second time, it really doesn't pack much of a punch after that.
Lastly, the film on a visual level is rather dull. There really isn't much of a visual flair here. This is one location that features a rusted and metal industrial kiln with lots of heat lamps. This movie just looks boring. This is a lot of browns and reds, and they don't do much with the location. Minus a few split screens or a camera angle in the corner of the kiln. This movie is nothing to write home about in terms of creativity. In saying that though, this could be due to being lower budget, and for that, I can't be too hard on the filmmaker.
DEATH TOLL: 2
BLOOD AND GORE:
- We hear someone burn to death on the other end of a phone call.
- Someone is shot in the stomach.
- Someone is shot in the head.
200 Degrees is a movie that has a decent leading performance from Eric Balfour. The first act of the film is pretty interesting, and I was on board. After the first act, it sort of loses steam. The premise feels repetitive. The twist is also predictable. Where the movie also loses points is that it builds us up to feel sorry for a character and throws it all away then try to redeem him and it all feels a little too little, too late. The one location premise has been done more successfully. Watch Phone Booth, Saw or Tape.