How far are you willing to go to save a stranger who’s wandering aimlessly at night in a snowstorm. It turns out, not very far for one youngish couple, Jake (David Call) and Lydia (Sarah Tihany), who get into a heated argument about how good a good Samaritan needs to be. They’re apparently of the middle-class variety that attends art openings, owns a late model automobile and has the misfortune of driving it down the wrong rural lane on a wintry eve.
They come to an abrupt halt to avoid hitting a man who is standing in the middle of the two-lane road who seems lost in an autistic trance. He’s underdressed for the weather and is all but immovable.
The couples begin to argue when Lydia tells Jake to give the man his new down jacket to keep warm, and the bickering escalates when Lydia makes insinuations about Jake’s manhood — which feels a bit mechanical. It’s as if some fighting words are being thrown in to get the two up on their hind legs, but what’s the motivation behind them?
“ … one youngish couple…gets into a heated argument about how good a good Samaritan needs to be.”
The snowfall isn’t all that heavy — despite the film’s title — but Lydia is concerned about the cold. They at first wonder if the man wandered away from some sort of shelter program, but later realize that only a prison is nearby. They’ve called the police, who are due to arrive in 10 minutes, but Lydia brings the coat to the man and notices he has blood on him.
What follows includes a moment of tension laced with confusion, and under the circumstances, the worst possible decision one could make in a split second.
For such a compact story, which fits more or less into the 10 minutes it takes for the police to arrive, it delivers enough suspense to keep the pressure mounting. The ending contains a surprise, which is mostly a good thing, although some might find it a bit hard to buy.
Whiteout (2019) Directed by Lance Edmands. Written by Lance Edmands, Sarah Tihany. Starring David Call, Patrick M. Walsh, Sarah Tihany. Whiteout screened at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival.
6 out of 10 Studded Snow Tires