Centigrade comes with an intriguing concept – a man kidnapped, trapped in his own trailer, desperately fighting for survival, as the heat is becoming unbearable (hence the name “Centigrade”, another name for “Celsius”). There is no explanation, no knowledge of his kidnappers, no greater framework in which the events could be placed – Centigrade is a thrilling story about an almost primal struggle for survival of a trapped man.
The film was made in 2007, as a debut of an American actor and director Colin Cunningham (best known for his role in TNT channel’s series Falling Skies, as John Pope). It was made in Canada, with a small budget of 20 000 CAD (15 000 USD, as per today’s exchange rate). Initially Cunningham planned on having another actor take the main role, but due to difficulties eventually he decided to take it himself. Centigrade was met with huge critical acclaim, receiving numerous awards and nominations, such as Cinequest Film Festival Award for Best Narrative Film and Leo Award for Best Short Drama. It was also featured at the Cannes Short Festival in 2008.
You Will Feel it All
Colin Cunningham does a brilliant job in transferring the protagonist’s emotions to the viewer, both as a director and an actor (as he also plays the main character). The film manages to captivate the viewers’ attention completely, engulfing them in desperation and fear the character is feeling.
While watching Centigrade, you are the man in the trailer – you are watching the thermometer’s bar inevitably rise, as one after another your attempts to escape the trap fail, and you realize just how terrifying your situation is. All of this happens without much explanation, adding confusion to the already impressive gamut of emotions.
This transference is largely achieved thanks to ingenious camera work – the scenes are shot almost exclusively inside the trailer, inspiring a feeling of claustrophobic dread in the viewer. Cunningham chose unusual, nauseating angles for many of his scenes – a small detail which works brilliantly to create an intense atmosphere.Last but not least, a word needs to be said about Colin’s acting – none of it would have been achieved if not for his amazing performance. Colin manages to capture the character’s rising desperation perfectly – fear, confusion, anger and desperation – he portrayed all of these emotions perfectly.
The question of justice – “Centigrade” Enigma
Cunningham’s character is an interesting choice: he is portrayed as a violent man who physically abuses his son. Despite the short length of the film, we get a very clear picture of the protagonist. In the very first scene of the movie, he assaults his son for no reason, forcing him to run away into the night.
Empty bottles and beer cans, as well the horrible mess in the trailer give us a hint as to what kind of a person (and father) he is. It is undeniably hard to empathize with a character like that – yet the viewer might find himself doing so anyway, witnessing the inhumane suffering he is subjected to.
Centigrade offers no answers, but it does provoke many questions, leaving the viewer to ponder on the events of the film. This makes the viewer wonder about things like – “Did his kidnappers trap him in order to punish him, or do they have another goal? Does he deserve such cruel punishment?”. This ambiguity regarding the nature of his tormentors adds great value to the film, leaving viewers to craft their own theories with what little information they are provided. It will certainly be a treat to watch longer version of Cunningham’s film, on which he is currently working, although few details are known. By the way, since the movie is out from cinemas long ago (2007) now it’s made available the full movie for streaming online free on Megamovies, or order the DVD.
Centigrade (2007) Summary – Totally Deserves Watch Time
Cunningham’s film is a unique production, well deserving the critical acclaim it has received. Centigrade will make you feel every second of the character’s suffering, keeping you at the edge of your seat till the end, like a proper thriller should.
Centigrade will make some of the viewers question their own morality and sense of justice – and for a 17-minute production, this does not happen often. Last but not least, Centigrade will imprint its mark on you, leaving you with an uneasy feeling for a long time after you’re done watching it.