Watching a film like The Thaw I get a small sadness that's different to the feeling I have of other generic fare. Big ideas here, the very future of the Earth, idealism carried beyond reason into calculated horror, the contrast of cold calculation with bloody reality and underlying all, two of the most momentous discoveries in the whole field of natural history. Big ideas but small, evasive and downright flawed execution. And there's the sadness, more than the endless iterations of nutbar with a knife, twisted family values, crazy crazy virus crazies or whatever, I come to this stuff to dream and here is dreaming denied.
The beginning points to the rest here. The nature of the horror is made explicit within minutes, killing suspense and wonder, and by the end of the opening credits all has either been spoiled or over strongly pointed at. After this the construction becomes straightforward, but the course of things still inane. I've never been a science student, never gone on any exciting field trips in dangerous, unfamiliar territory, but I imagine that if we arrived at base camp to find no welcome nor even adequate power, we might be shocked and wary rather than just cranking up the generator and otherwise heading off to bed down or get amorous. And I think that if I had an insect bite that rapidly turned into a gruesome, unusual and painful sore I would get onto sorting it out pretty sharpish. I also think that if I found what seemed to be a well preserved specimen of a long extinct species with something clearly living inside it, I'd either be up and down whooping with amazement or at least jaw dropping dumbstruck. Furthermore, if I were a writer and I had established that two characters had a history, then that one gave the other an STD, I might actually do something with this point instead of making it and immediately dropping it.
But setting aside what I might have done, essentially this is all worthy of something other than turning into a predictable riff on The Thing with incredible creature effects replaced by bugs. Not even weird looking bugs at that. Just regular old bugs. This disappointment aside though, these are an effective menace. Small, fast moving, swarming nicely when needed and always well realised on screen, they are about as cool as bugs can be. And they lead to nicely grody wound effects and vomiting. Combined with a fairly swift pace they make for pretty diverting fun in a vacant sort of way. The film is also crisply shot and appropriately lit, it all looks reasonably classy. Plus the acting is all at least competent, with an underused Val Kilmer a grizzled highlight.
So overall this just about works on an entertainment front, despite shortcomings. Some gross goods and a few tense moments, just don't get suckered into expecting more. Partially recommended I suppose.