Forever old is the tale of the dark family secret that eventually comes back to haunt the patriarch (or matriarch) when the offspring eventually uncover the details and find themselves incapable of forgiveness for the choices the parents made under duress long ago. In Canadian thriller Ice Blue, writer Jason Long and director Sandi Somers embody this tale in a home-schooled teenage girl living with her single father.
Arielle (Sophia Lauchlin Hirt) is about to turn 16. Her one wish is that her long-estranged mother Maria (Michelle Morgan) could be there to celebrate with her. After Arielle’s father John (Billy MacLellan) reports that he was unable to contact her mother, Maria mysteriously appears in John and Arielle’s home. Behind John’s back, Maria visits with Arielle and informs her about John’s alcoholic and womanizing past; a past that nearly cost Arielle her life in a drowning incident. From there, things get confusing for Arielle as she tries to get to the truth behind the stories she’s hearing and her family’s long ostracization by the rest of the community.
Ably directed with picturesque images of rural landscapes and small-town life, Ice Blue makes up in visuals what might feel a little lacking in story. With a run-length of 104-minutes, this film is a slow burn that spends a good amount of time exploring the relationship between Arielle and John, John and the rest of the town, and Arielle and her cocky wiseass suitor named Christian (Charlie Kerr). Maria’s role in the family dynamic (and the family secret) is purposefully left obscure until near the end of the film to facilitate a reveal.
The actors all play their roles well. MacLellan, in particular, is sympathetic and believable as the John Schneider-style good old boy with a heart of gold who is concealing some pretty epic darkness. Technically, the film uses light to set an appropriate mood, and the sound engineering is quality work. Where Ice Blue suffers some is the length of the story and the somewhat unlikely rapid deterioration of her relationship with her father given the limited amount of time Arielle spends with her mother.
Without spoiling too much, Arielle at first refuses and then comes to believe stories about her father’s dark past–a man with whom she has spent her entire life up to this point–and takes some rather drastic action based on little more than hearsay from a woman she hasn’t laid eyes on in 11 years in addition to some nasty town gossip. Only then, after she makes this choice, does the complete truth of her family secret come to light.
For audiences who enjoy a family drama that explores multiple relationships between people in a small town, you could do much worse than Ice Blue. This movie should be reserved for a time when you can invest in the characters: their wants, their needs, and their feelings for each other. But for horror audiences seeking a thriller that has more of a balance between plot and story, this one will feel weighted to the latter.