In a spaceship, in an underwater vessel or in an Arctic or Antarctic station, some of the best science fiction takes place in an isolated setting. More precisely, such locations are the convention of the narrower genre of sci-fi horror, in which remote environments combined with tight, claustrophobic spaces are perfect for the unleashing of our worst fears. This is, of course, obvious to any viewer, who recognizes these are places difficult or impossible to escape or be rescued from. But more importantly these settings allow for psychological conflicts that parallel, heighten or even overshadow the genre's typical conflicts with aliens, sentient computers or supernatural beings.

Take Larry Fessenden's latest film, The Last Winter, which is set in an Arctic station and follows all the rules of the sci-fi horror genre, while almost completely leaving out the physical conflict. Yes, it features a supernatural threat, but it doesn't need one, because the film works so brilliantly as simply a psychological mood piece. In most of these kinds of films, the creature or villain is the pay-off for the audience that seeks some sort of spectacle, or at least some material baddie to make for a cinematically appropriate, externally battled climax. In The Last Winter however, the spectacle actually falls flat because it consists of disappointingly horrible special effects.
categories Reviews, Cinematical