In Antarctica, no one can hear you scream. Because really, there aren’t very many people there.
On Halloween, the first fictional movie ever to be entirely filmed on the world’s least-populated continent will be released online. Called South of Sanity, the British horror film focuses on 14 people, isolated for nine months at an Antarctic research base, who disappear half a year into their mission. A rescue team later unearths video footage that, Blair Witch-style, recounts their last week alive as a mysterious killer murders one scientist after another.
The film was shot by Kirk Watson, a British documentary filmmaker with six years of experience in the Antarctic, during time off on evenings and weekends while he was working at the Halley Research Station, one of eight bases maintained by the British Antarctic Survey. The amateur cast consists entirely of fellow scientists and engineers working at the station, the BBC reported. Watson improvised his special effects, using children’s face-paint for makeup and a mixture of food coloring, flour and syrup for fake blood.
The planet’s icy southernmost region has been the setting for several fictional movies over the years, starting with Lost Zeppelin (epically subtitled Frozen Wasteland of Terror and Death!). Shot on Hollywood sound stages in 1929, the movie was based on the dramatic crash and rescue of the airship Italia near the North Pole a year earlier. Two years later, Frank Capra directed the adventure movie Dirigible in which an airship and a fixed-wing airplane raced to reach the South Pole. The first comedy set in the Antarctic was 1965’s Quick Before It Melts, about a reporter hoping to report the defection of a Soviet scientist. In 2006, the U.S.-Australian penguin comedy musical Happy Feet became the first computer-animated film entirely set on the continent.
But perhaps the closest cousin to South of Sanity is The Thing, John Carpenter’s 1982 horror film about a shape-shifting monster that terrorizes an Antarctic research station. (It was also remade in 2011.)
Antarctica is larger than Europe or Australia but only has a population of around 4,400 in summer and 1,100 in winter. It is considered no-man’s land in perpetuity, unclaimed by any one nation, according to the Antarctic Treaty of 1959. Yet, savage murders such as in the South of Sanity would not go untried: according article 8 of the treaty, British law would apply at the British research station.