Five people wake up from their cryo chambers, but it’s immediately obvious something isn’t right. There’s nobody there to check on them, or tell them how long they were asleep. Even more unsettling, they can remember that they were part of an experiment and what their role was, Psychologist (Jyllian Petrie, Witnesses, Hello, I Love You), Doctor (Emily Marie Palmer, The Last Son, USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage), Soldier (Mason D. Davis, Wind River, Stalked in Paradise), Engineer (Curt Doussett, 61: Highway to Hell, One Good Man) and Biochemist (Morgan Gunter, Shattered Memories, Out of Liberty). But they can’t remember their names.
They also quickly find out that The Inventor (Michael Flynn, The Appearance, Small Town Crime) is nowhere to be found. And for some reason, they’re sealed behind an airlock.
I have to give director Barrett Burgin and co-writer Mason D. Davis, both making their first feature in those roles, credit for ingenuity. They’ve taken a plot that usually takes place on a spaceship and found a way to set it in what looks like the basement of an office building, cutting out the need and expense of fancy sets and effects.
Unfortunately, Cryo almost immediately bogs itself down as the characters wander around looking for clues or a way out. They split up of course, so there’s no dialogue, just seemingly endless shots of various rooms. What is ominous however is how quickly characters start making religious references, hallucinate hearing someone giving a sermon, and find a copy of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Cryo is another two-hour movie and I really didn’t want to be preached at for that long.
After a while, they find a bloody machete, a large bloodstain but no body. This sets off a heated debate about exiting through the airlock and risking what might be on the other side or staying where they are with whoever was using that machete. They find a cache of food, but it’s behind a password-protected door with limited tries allowed, and none of them know it. This sets off more talking and more wandering around looking for clues
And that is about what you can expect from Cryo, lots and lots of talk occasional interrupted by a few random images as someone has a few memories come back. Despite the film trying to frame all of this, as well as everything else the characters do, as sinister none of it is very compelling. Neither is the mystery of who is allegedly stealing food and sabotaging equipment or why they’re doing it. Not even after their activities reach the point where people are dying, something foreshadowed by a game of Clue near the film’s start.
With a better, more focused script and better actors Cryo might have made a solid short, maybe even a shortish feature. The Divide took a similar plot to the two-hour mark as well, but few directors have the talent Xavier Gens does. And two hours of this clunky dialogue and delivery combined with the lack of budget are sleep-inducing.
At one point one of the characters risks the airlock and comes back having seen something awful. We don’t see it, and he can’t convincingly convey how bad what he saw was. In another, The Engineer talking about the still unseen Inventor as if he were God and appoints himself as “His voice until He chooses to reveal Himself”. It’s meant to be intimidating, but it comes off like some homeless guy ranting in the park.
Burgin and Davis obviously wanted to make a statement but viewers will stop caring long before the film gets to it. Cryo is two hours of unrelenting boredom capped off by an entirely unsurprising ending. Unless you need to be put into deep sleep there’s no reason to subject yourself to this.
Saban Films will release Cryo in theatres on June 24th, followed by VOD and Digital platforms on June 28th. You can check the film’s Facebook page for more details. And if you’re looking for something similar but better, FilmTagger may have the suggestion you need.