People being trapped in shit is turning into a real popular sub-genre of movies. We’ve had someone in a coffin, people on a ski lift, strangers in an elevator (and the devil was kicking around too so doubly shitty there), we put Stephen Dorff in a trunk, and there’s some more I can’t think of. Anytime you hear the premise your immediate thought is “Ryan Reynolds in a coffin for 90 minutes? How are they going to turn that into a movie?” But so far I’ve been consistently surprised and often impressed (seriously check out Buried and Frozen, really good movies). For today’s movie, it’s 247 Degrees Fahrenheit (I don’t know how to make the degree circle so from now on fuck it this movie will just be called 247), where we trap people in a sauna! Oh shit! Saunas are way hot you guys, that would not be fun! But how are they ever going to pull off a movie about that? Turns out, they really aren’t.
The first 30 minutes is devoted to getting to know these characters before they set foot into the devil sauna, but the problem is that these aren’t characters worth getting to know. One guy is a writer so he says smart shit, one girl is traumatized so she says nothing, one guy is a drunk asshole so he drinks and says asshole stuff, and so on. Frozen worked well because by the time they get stuck on the ski lift, you’ve grown attached to these people and don’t want to see them get hurt. Here, I couldn’t care less and every second spent not being in a sauna felt like a complete waste. Things don’t get any better once they do get in there though.
The cover of the DVD, and the marketing material I saw, seemed very big on the whole “oh shit man, high temperatures means boiling skin and shit, gon’ get nasty in this sauna!” angle. It made me think of the tanning bed death in Final Destination 3, which is pretty brutal, so a whole movie of that sounded very intense. Don’t believe any of that, it’s not here. The only dilemma these guys ever face is “shit you guys, it’s hot in this sauna”. Seriously 90% of the script must have looked like this:
“It’s so hot! We have to get out of here cuz it’s so hot!”
“Just calm down and drink some water”
“Don’t tell me to calm down, it’s so hot in here! I’m so hot! Guys? Guys? GUYS! ...I’m really hot”
“She’s right it’s really hot in here”.
The other 10% is the smart guy explaining how saunas work in case the movie is being viewed by martians. The dialogue is so stiff and not terrifically acted that it’s like watching a bad high school play. Plus all of that “character development” goes out the window since all of a sudden people start acting like assholes for no real reason. I love when the bitchy girl insults the main girl with a good “Unlike you I have a life to get back too!”, then apologizes and says she didn’t mean it, then like a scene later says the exact same thing again. Trust me, it’s hilarious. Even better is when one guy has a Nicholas Cage style mental breakdown. How the director didn’t watch that take and tell him “Do it again but less shitty” I can’t understand.
The other issue is that there’s no tension. Again the reason other movies like Frozen work is because they ratchet up the stakes and keep making the situation worse, forcing the characters to try multiple ways of escaping. That doesn’t happen here. There’s a couple of escape attempts near the beginning of their predicament here, but for the most part they just sit around and complain about the heat. There is one part where they hear a dog barking outside and spend like 2 minutes calling out his name, though I’m not really sure what they think the dog is going to do. Also, one guy even says that his uncle, who owns the cabin the sauna is in, will be home soon and will let them out. Either they don’t hear him or they forget immediately because they instead go the freak out route. The situation would resolve itself in a few hours if they just hang tight, but nope. Unless that’s some comment on humanity that was intended. Still doesn’t make the movie more exciting though. Oh and in case you were hoping perhaps the reason they are locked in the sauna is interesting, it’s really really not, though I think that may have been the intention. The “oh shit this could happen to you” angle. But I know it won’t happen to me because fuck saunas, so I’m not worried.
247 is the biggest failure of all these “trapped in shit” movies I’ve seen. It’s poorly written and just incredibly boring. The idea of being stuck in a room that is getting progressingly hotter I think could make for a good movie, but this is not that movie. This is one of the few films where I fully endorse a remake. I want somebody to get this right!
Also at one point there is a really loud buzzing noise for a while and the cat really didn’t like that, so that’s another strike against you movie.