6 Below

 

starstar

 


Hell below zero in the High Sierras.

   6 Below

Josh Hartnett

 

How does it grab you, the idea of watching a film devoted entirely to one man wandering lost and alone for a whole week in the snowy mountain area that is Utah's High Sierra? What is depicted here is what actually happened in 2004 to Eric LeMarque, eight days of suffering in which, in point of fact, almost nothing occurred. Consequently, to portray incidents the film can only fall back on such familiar details as a brief encounter with animals, the pain of legs with frostbite and the overhead flight of a search plane that fails to spot the missing man. Doubtless all the clichés here are true and have been described by Eric LeMarque in the book which the opening credits tell us he wrote with Davin Seay. That in itself ensures that we know that he will survive against the odds, but, if reading about his experience and about his thoughts at the time could be gripping, as a drama for the screen its appeal seems to me very much less.

 

Should you disagree with my sentiment, you may wish to hurry along too see 6 Below, Madison Turner's adaptation of that book in which Josh Hartnett (also one of the film’s producers) portrays LeMarque and suffers throughout. Scott Waugh's movie was shot on location, but the real essence of Le Marque's story lies less in the situation as depicted here at length than in the way in which it altered his life. It would seem that he had  grown up pressurised by a father who was determined that his son would be a success in life, a fact that led to Eric becoming extremely self-assertive on a hockey team and someone ready to rely on drugs to boost himself. This had left him troubled and unhappy with his life by 2004, but his experience on the mountain would transform him leading him to give up drugs and, because of the miracle that his survival represented, he found God.

 

In fact, despite the dangers of the genre, this ought to have been a specifically Christian film but, regardless of its subtitle ("Miracle on the Mountain"), Turner chooses to duck that but for a few hints that remain undeveloped. He does attempt to suggest the crucial backstory but only through brief flashbacks to earlier years including childhood, scenes that as written are insufficiently detailed and come across as banal.     Instead of providing the meat of the story along with the eventual outcome they seem like desperate attempts to bring some variety of scene into the movie. Had I seen this when a young child I might have been caught up in it all, but as an adult I found its limitations all too obvious. However, if the material in its screen form is such that it attracts you, there is no reason not to see this movie: otherwise, be warned.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Josh Hartnett, Mira Sorvino, Sarah Dumont, Jason Cottle.

 

Dir Scott Waugh, Pro Simon Swart, Bradley Pilz, Scott Waugh, Tucker Tooley and Josh Hartnett, Screenplay Madison Turner, based on the book Crystal Clear by Eric LeMarque with Davin Seay, Ph Michael Svitak, Pro Des Diane Millet, Ed Vashi Nedomansky and Scott Waugh, Music Nathan Furst, Costumes Jacqueline Newell.

 

October Sky Pictures/Tucker Tooley Entertainment/Sonar Entertainment/Stormchaser Films-Signature Entertainment.
98 mins. USA. 2016. Rel: 13 October 2017. Cert. 12A.