6 Below is a survival story based on the real life experience of Eric LeMarque, a successful hockey player who got stranded for seven days battling freezing cold temperatures in the mountains and resorted to eating his own skin in desperation.
The film takes a while to thaw. Josh Hartnett, an actor who disappeared off the radar as much as his character, leads the film with gusto but unfortunately there is little opportunity to get to know the character before he gets lost (all we know is that he likes Alsatians and doesn’t realise you shouldn’t give them chocolate). So the movie gets off to a fledgling start, as we don’t really feel like we know Eric.
We can still feel some empathy, as he stands completely naked, on top of a snow covered mountain, shaking whilst he waits for his clothes to dry, making a fateful decision to leave his wet socks on.
Things begins to heat up, after his mother discovers his disappearance and gets involved in trying to track down her son’s disappearance and makes a finely acted and moving plea for rescue services to help her. Director Scott Waugh (Need for Speed) successfully creates a raw, visceral account of Eric’s ordeal up on the mountain as he not only battles the elements to survive, but also drug withdrawal symptoms and memories of the past which haunt him. However, the constant flashbacks to his past, with corny music, only serve as a distraction to the drive of the story.
Josh Hartnett gives a gritty, impressive performance; much of the film is him alone other than the wolves that try to attack him, as he grimaces, swears and talks to himself.
The real life story is that after leaving his successful hockey career behind him, Eric LeMarque had become addicted to drugs and his near death experience on the mountain caused him to turn his life around. However, the only messages the film leaves you with are don’t go anywhere without telling your mother and don’t sleep with wet socks on in freezing temperatures.
6 Below is released in cinemas across the UK on October 13th.