Numb a tight chiller thriller

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      Starring Jaimie Bamber. Rated PG.

      Fargo meets Kalifornia in this arboreal crime drama about two couples who stumble onto a potential—and potentially lethal—pot of gold.

      No rainbows decorate wintry northern B.C., where forestry specialist Will (Battlestar Galactica’s British-born Jamie Bamber) has gone for an oil-patch job that almost happened. His orderly blond wife (Stefanie von Pfetten) is facing her own financial problems, and we soon learn that these two tend to gloss over their problems. That won’t help when, while driving back to Vancouver, they pick up two distressed travellers, in the form of dark-haired siblings who are no strangers to the law—just as Aleks Paunovic and Marie Avgeropoulos are highly familiar to viewers of Canadian-made TV.

      Too lightly dressed for snowstorms, the newcomers seem dangerous right from the start. That’s before they come upon an old-prospector type wandering in the night. He croaks from exposure, and the back-seaters find some mysterious GPS numbers in his wallet. They put this together with a recently stolen trove of gold coins and pressure the more genteel, if entirely broke, couple to go into the part-time treasure-hunting business. (The gold’s worth an extra-cool four million, but they never explain if that’s Canadian or U.S.—important when assessing risk.)

      Good thing Will knows the woods. Bad thing they have such insufficient gear and clothing. Our Numb nuts soon have some frosty accidents; the worst involves bumping into a psychopath played menacingly well by Vancouver’s Colin Cunningham. These twists, and some bigger ones to come, are impressively handled by director Jason R. Goode and writer Andre Harden, both making their feature debuts. It has to be said that Bamber and Paunovic get the best and make the most of the script, which doesn’t bother to round out the female characters beyond overly familiar archetypes. Still, this low-budget chiller has enough substance to suggest hotter things to come.