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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 12.10.13] Austria horror

In a remote area of the Alps, a group of scientists at a research station are keeping a close eye on the retreating ice cap which is being affected by the drastic climate change. The group is preparing for a visit from a government official who is coming to check on the operation when they discover that one of the sensors at an outlying station has stopped working. One of the scientists heads off with the resident technician to fix the problematic sensor but when they arrive at the location, they discover what appears to be a biological micro-creature covering the ice and though its' not immediately apparent where it came from or what this means, viewers know that things aren't going to progress well.

Austria's first "creature" feature The Station doesn't hide any of its influences. There are direct nods to Alien and The Thing but director Marvin Kren, who previously impressed audiences with Rammbock (review), shows confidence in both his actors and the interesting twists of Benjamin Hessler's script and the resulting movie does a good job of standing on its own while wearing its influences proudly.

The opening twenty or so minutes of The Station play more like a cabin fever thriller than a monster movie. Janek, the technician, has been in the Alps for some time and he's a surly drunkard who is very good at his job but mostly ignored by the others unless absolutely necessary. It's not until the second visit to the outpost to collect more samples that The Station really bares its monstrous creatures and when they appear, they don't disappoint; turns out the weird algae acts as a catalyst for mixing DNA which opens the door to some very interesting mutations, including an ibex that seems hell-bent on consuming human flesh.

The Station also features a collection of memorable characters. Janek (Gerhard Liebmann) the drunk turns out to be one of the sanest of the bunch, but it's the unassuming member of the visiting party that really takes the cake, delivering not only some of the movie's most cheer worthy moments but also a handful of pretty great one-liners.

With all this going for it, along with gorgeous vistas (Kren and cinematographer Moritz Schultheiß take full advantage of the beautiful locations), what really impresses about The Station is that for the most part, the characters don't make stupid decisions. I can't remember the last time I saw a horror movie that didn't have me wondering why a character is running back towards danger but here, that's largely avoided with the exception of Janek who makes a questionable and decision fillowed by a ridiculously bad one towards the end of the movie but the, his decision also feels authentic to the character and hence a little easier to overlook.

It's not without a few problems, the music is overwhelming at times and there's a surprise introduction of a character partway through the movie that feels unnecessary (though it allows for one of the other characters to have a few gloriously awesome scenes) but overall, The Station is a pretty great creature feature and exactly the kind of movie you'd want to see with some rowdy friends and a few drinks. There are plenty of moments for cheering and an ending that will have you hoping for a sequel and speculating what it might look like (or more accurately, what crazy creatures it will include).

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