Wendy Crewson in A Colder Kind of Death (2001)

Old Death, New Revelations

Joanne Kilbourn (Wendy Crewson) was once a detective but these days is a lecturer at a university specialising in "law and order". But she finds herself drawn back to an old case when Kevin Tarpley (Christopher Bolton) is arrested for the murder of Joanne's husband some six years earlier. Whilst denying he killed Joanne's husband it is clear that he has information which might unlock the case. Unfortunately before he can shed light on what might have happened he is killed, gunned down in the street. It causes Joanne to start investigating what happened six years earlier especially as Kevin's acidic wife, Maureen Gault (Kari Matchett), mentions that he had gambling debts whilst acts quite threatening. But as Joanne digs deeper and deeper she finds herself a suspect when someone is murdered whilst those she believed are her friends might not be so nice after all.

If I knew then what I know now I may have not watched "A Colder Kind of Death" as it was whilst watching this made for TV movie I discovered it was the fourth movie in a series of six which sees Wendy Crewson starring as Joanne Kilbourn. And as I watched I knew that whilst I could watch "A Colder Kind of Death" without watching those previous Joanne Kilbourn movies it would have been a lot easier if I had for the simple reason without having watched those earlier movies this feels like you are being thrown in at the deep end when it comes to the characters. You almost feel like you have been invited to a party where all the guests already know each other but you don't know any of them.

Teri Garr in A Colder Kind of Death (2001)

But once you get beyond the issue of having to play catch up when it comes to the characters what you get in "A Colder Kind of Death" is a solid but not overly memorable made for TV thriller. This is the sort of mystery movie where we have a woman investigating a crime and not only finds herself dealing with threats and becoming a suspect in a murder but also discovering those she trusted have dark secrets which they have kept from her leading to a series of revelations. Trouble is that it is all pretty typical so when we see Joanne slap someone in front of a whole room of people you know that is going to be the reason the police will have for making her a suspect when that same person is found dead. We also have furtive conversations between people as well as a woman who looks vulnerable clearly knowing some thing important but is too scared to speak.

The thing which "A Colder Kind of Death" clearly has going for it is a strong cast of likeable actors as well as a crew who know how to make them look good. As such I can't remember a single scene in the entire movie where Wendy Crewson looks bad and the subtle camera movements stops the movie from feeling static and rushed. But this is where once again I am convinced that watching the earlier movies first would have helped as whilst Wendy Crewson along with Victor Garber, Teri Garr and Cynthia Gibb all play their parts well the characters don't have the depth needed to make them feel more than just typical made for TV characters.

What this all boils down to is that I can see why those who enjoyed the earlier Joanne Kilbourn movies are likely to enjoy "A Colder Kind of Death" as well. But when watched as a stand alone movie this feels not only generic but also ends up a bit of a struggle as you feel thrown in at the deep end with the characters.