Downhill is a perfect example of why some films should just never be remade. I watched Force Majeure to prepare for seeing this film, and saying it’s a step down from its source material is an understatement. Director Nat Faxon gives no reason for this remake to exist, making it feel as if it was just another excuse for Will Ferrell to make bad jokes for two hours straight.
Everything remotely special about Downhill’s direction is due to the beautiful locations and cinematography. But even then, it still doesn’t feel as immersive as it should. Cinematographer Danny Cohen does as fine of a job as he can, showing off the incredible scenery of Austria every chance he has. If it weren’t for the gorgeous landscapes, then the film would have been considerably more boring than it already was.
Downhill is a remake of a Swedish psychological thriller called Force Majeure. Both films follow a couple struggling to keep their marriage from falling apart while in the middle of an avalanche. Unlike its predecessor, Downhill fails to add anything interesting to the conversation Force Majeure already started. Instead of challenging the audience with a complex relationship between a husband and wife, Downhill opts for bad jokes that we’ve all come to expect in a Will Ferrell film.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Like I mentioned before, the film completely spits in the face of its predecessor by doing the bare minimum and turning the movie into another bad Will Ferrell comedy that just blends in with the rest. Every character seems like the screenwriter read a synopsis of each person from the original film and just made them a bit more ‘quirky’ with corny dialogue. Sometimes great performances can save characters from being badly written, but unfortunately that’s not the case with Downhill. Will Ferrell is Will Ferrell from every other film he’s been in across the last decade. Julia Louis-Dreyfus does what she can with the script, but her performance still feels completely phoned in during large portions of the film. She certainly gives the most memorable performance out of the entire cast though, because everyone else just fades into the background with no presence at all.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
I really wish that the film had a great score to pair with. There’s a bunch of dramatic scenes that fell flat because of the lack of an interesting score. Music really lends a lot to a film’s tone to guide its audience through certain emotions, and Downhill just ends up feeling so… basic because of the generic score. The ‘big’ moment of the film doesn’t feel big enough because the score doesn’t lend itself to the scene with any presence. The sound design on the other hand, is very well done. Films that include big catastrophic moments like an avalanche need great sound design to make the audience feel as distressed as the characters, and that’s exactly what Downhill would have done if the characters weren’t so flat; but that’s not the sound design’s fault.
Downhill really shines in its technical merits. Everything is as standard as it gets in most films. The makeup and costume design is what you would expect for a film that takes place on a cold mountain. Nothing is really noteworthy apart from the special effects which are practically seamless. There’s not a single moment in the film that feels like it came from a computer, which really helped with making the movie a bit more immersive.
Downhill fits perfectly in Will Ferrell's discography as a forgettable and unfunny mess. It’s beyond frustrating to see studios continuously ride off the back of great original films by remaking them for no real reason other than to cash in. I suppose the film could be fun if you haven’t seen the original and share the movie’s sense of humor, but other than that, this just felt like a waste of my time and a waste of the source material.