29th Oct2013

Frightfest 2013: ‘The Station’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Gerhard Liebmann, Edita Malovcic, Hille Beseler, Brigitte Kren, Peter Knaac | Written by Benjamin Hessler | Directed by Marvin Kren

Station

Rammbock director Marvin Kren turns his hand to an ecological themed monster-movie that sees a group of technicians and scientists at an alpine research station discover a glacier of blood high in the mountains. Testing the red liquid oozing from the ice, they discover a new alien organism with the astonishing capability of transforming the local wildlife into horrific hybrids and monster mutations. With the Minister of the Environment hiking to the station for an official visit, many frightening questions must be answered if the bickering team are to survive and cope with the giant wood lice, the beetle-foxes, crossbred flying predators and much, much worse.

It’s hard to believe that The Station is actually Kren’s feature-film debut. 2010′s Rammbock was such a cause-celebre that it can be easy to forget that the film only ran for about an hour, officially marking this as his first full-length film – and let’s just say it’s an “interesting” choice. Right from the get-go The Station wears it’s inspiration on its sleeve. This is Kren’s, and writer Benjamin Hessler’s, take on John Carpenter’s The Thing. There’s no denying it. There’s no arguing against it. A snowy setting? Check. Strange mutated creatures? Check. A cast that spends most of the running time arguing with each other? Check.

See what I mean? But that’s not necessarily a bad thing…

The first thing that hits you about The Station is just how massive the setting is. Kren makes the most of the Alpine landscape really showing just how isolated the research station is and that size and scope extends to the discovery of the “red ice” – it’s not just one isolated area that is infected and Kren uses the massive vistas at his disposal to show just how far the mutant-creating ice reaches. And speaking of mutants. Fans of practical effects will be pleased to hear that the bizarre mutated creatures of The Station are all rendered in gorgeous latex awesomeness: from the giant wood lice and the beetle-fox to the massive (and and it is massive) bear-buffalo. Although sometimes the rubber monsters really just do look like that… rubber monsters.

Whilst the film locale is gorgeous to look at and the creatures within are pretty fantastic, The Station does have one major fault. The majority of the cast of utterly unlikeable and spend most of their time arguing with each other to such an extent that even those that have a modicum of likeability becoming nothing more than annoying archetypes. Even the “hero” of the film is a belligerent drunkard who cares more about his dog than the rest of the crew!

But as with a lot of these types if genre film it’s not the cast that makes the movie, it’s the creatures. And in the case of The Station, Kren and co. do the best they can with the budget they had – crafting a film that belies the meagre funding through tight pacing and intriguing creature FX. However with a bit more cash to spend on their monsters – and maybe adding one all-out ginormous one to really up the ante, rather than the flying beastie the characters have to contend with – and the film could have been a truly fantastic genre flick. As it stands now The Station is a commendable effort that will satisfy undemanding genre fans looking for an old-fashioned creature-feature.

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