The Jeff Fahey Review: Absolute Zero
Like a string section swelling but not yet high enough in the mix to be audible, Fahey’s presence in Absolute Zero is initially concealed whilst an opening scene unravels in the vicinity of the screen. The dish we are served features a coterie of scientists rummaging around that vast ice pop we call
What does one do in this situation, underpaid researchers spooked by the possibility that next time they venture outside they’ll end up plummeting to depths not seen since Haim and Feldman’s last outing? Well, you throw in a Fahey, of course. And throw him in they do. Dropped by a helicopter in hasty retreat, Fahey meets an old buddy and they set to work exploring a subterranean cave newly-found nearby. Conditions worsen and moods receive a blow of melancholy when a raging storm rolls into camp midway through the reconnaissance. Death befalls all except Fahey, who is left pondering cave scribbles deep below the surface, ancient scribbles that may prove to hold the key to explaining the climatological affliction set to envelope the planet.
So, Fahey returns from his icy Antarctic grotto to the breezy, sun-coated beaches of
Alas, the dodgy weather doesn’t play by the rules. Rather than staying an isolated event occurring considerable miles away from anything, it sees fit to impose itself on the sort of topographies infested by millions of scampering little mammals. As glaciers replace rich playboys in
Or maybe he won’t. Perhaps he was fed-up with perpetual traffic jams, or the smog choking his lungs every afternoon, because the worst does indeed happen. Suffice it to say, if Fahey allowed
By a stroke of luck, and an undoubted eternity spent in grad school, Fahey ascertains that a temperature of absolute zero will rain down upon
Joining Fahey on this wild excursion is erstwhile Baywatch object Erika Eleniak, still dizzy from her encounter with Steven Seagal in Under Siege. Looked at closely, Eleniak’s sub-Fahey eyes betray her immanent preoccupation with Seagal’s knife histrionics and her disillusionment at being passed over with regard the sequel. Here she plays not Fahey’s wife as the DVD description states, but a former flame now married to an old pal of Fahey’s. The name of this pal? Why, it’s none other than Jeff. How are we to interpret this odd coincidence? Well, first of all, there are no coincidences where Fahey is concerned – all comes into being via his divine will, with no space for Chance to mosh its way into the fermentation. No, the answer lies with Fahey’s immutable essence. I submit to you, good reader, that Fahey’s quintessence is of such potency that his reality spills over into the film, thus imprinting his wholesome forename on to the frame of one of his co-stars. Unfortunately, this other-Jeff gets killed by a flying palm tree halfway through the film, bringing an end to a peculiar refraction of Fahey that is not without precedent (cf. Corpses).
With charity stomped into the stitches of his fleece, Fahey takes on two young apprentices for this filmic endeavour. A.J, a rather cute science major, provides a great function by doing the minor technical tasks that are but a besmirchment on Fahey’s ‘to do’ list. Philip, a strip joint enthusiast, radiates the requisite stupidity to allow for long disclosures about what all these chemistry symbols might signify in the right lighting. Together they form a smooth pavement of comic relief for Fahey walk on, assuaging excessive tensions as the group traverses a five-inch thick ledge in subfreezing temperatures. They also act as a welcome counterpart to the token Evil Corporate Guy, a man who cares not how many cars are being blown away outside by large CGI bubbles.
“No warning. No time. No escape,” reads the DVD cover of Absolute Zero, to which I’d like to add: “But plenty of Fahey.” There it is, the crux of the film, and perhaps the crux also of life: three negations, in turn negated by the presence of Fahey. This is not merely some sordid analogy, far from it. It’s truly indicative of Fahey’s omniscience that he can mollify the fiery palpitations of a treble No, not simply disarming them of their pain-inducing facilities, but also transmogrifying them into something altogether better. By assimilating the negations, Fahey is able to remind us that we are but a speck of dust floating down his corneas, his stature standing proud as the fulcrum of existence, doing so once again through the profound tonalities of his cinematic sculptures.