For any self-confessed snow junkie, it is that time of year when you dust off your skis, wax your board and book the cheapest chalet in the Three Valleys ready to spend a week or two in pursuit of that white gold. It is also then, an apt time for the release of Mikey Hilb’s snow sports spectacle, Deep Winter. A tale of two childhood friends; one a champion downhill skier, and the other a professional freestyle snowboarder, who reunite after years apart to tackle a notorious Alaskan peak, which is legendary for being impossible to ride.
The first thing to say about this film is that if you are not a skiing or snowboarding devotee, you probably won’t like it. Simple as. Its selling point is precisely in its premise. This is a film that plays to the imagination of those who would rather spend a week in -20°C Austria than two weeks in Barbados, who do more off-piste than getting pissed, and who experience involuntary spine tingles on hearing the word ‘powder’. Put simply, it’s a film for the fanatics. Nothing highlights this more than the mediocre plot with its predictable twists and clichéd turns.
Revolving around main character Tyler Crowe (Eric Lively), the narrative follows his plight after his promising downhill skiing career lies in tatters following a particularly reckless run. After giving up the Olympic dream and meeting up with his best pal Mark Rider (Kellan Lutz), he reluctantly agrees to ride some of the most dangerous peaks in Alaska as part of a film masterminded by extreme sports video producer, Stefan Weaks (Luke Goss). Tension between the two friends grows as a combination of competitiveness on the slopes and the revelation that Crowe has been romancing Rider’s younger sister, Elisa (Peyton List). All of this culminates in inevitable tragedy.
Despite the flimsy narrative, an impressive cast manage to deliver the goods. With up and coming younger cast members (Lively starred in the L-Word series and Lutz was in some film franchise called Twilight) the film feels fresh and current. Adding the intensity and professionalism are Hollywood veterans Michael Madsen and Robert Carradine who play roles alongside Lutz and Lively. Madsen in particular, manages to add some human sentiment to a film, which is essentially an extended extreme sports video.
The delight of Deep Winter is definitely in its downhill footage. With camera perspectives ranging from aerial, to static, to point of view, you really get an idea of how brilliant and dangerous the sport can be. The stunts were performed by professional skiers Seth Morrison, Daron Rahlves, “Big Air” Dan Treadway and JP Auclair and snowboarder Shin Campos and as such the action scenes which dominate much of the film, are breathtaking. Add to this the enchanting, sweeping landscapes of Alaska, Utah and the Austrian Alps, and Deep Winter becomes a feast for the eyes.
If you’re looking for something to wet your appetite for an impending snow trip, this is probably the thing to invest in after you’ve got your thermal socks and lift pass.
Words > Paula Croggon