-- or perhaps more properly, "In which Mr. and Mrs. Vorange enjoy an evening out, and Mrs. Vorange finds that 'zombie' is really only a state of mind."
"Where have you been? Let's go," Mr. Vorange said as I walked in the door, arms full and dragging, straight from work.
"We're going to see Whiteout." He took my bags and binders from me, returned to me my phone and wallet, then ushered me back out the door and into the car.
"A horror movie."
I backed out of the driveway in the throes of an Indiana Jones moment. Zombies. Why does it always have to be zombies? "All right, but I get to drink," I sulked.
"I'll drive from the restaurant," Mr. Vorange agreed easily, then launched into a heated recap of recent socio-political events.
I paused my attempts to remember who Max Baucus, Raheem Morris, and Kanye West were ("Senate Finance Committee Chairman, the guy who replaced Gruden, and a moron, respectively," Mr. Vorange clarified, then launched into another topic) long enough to ask, "Where are we going?"
"To get something to eat."
"But ... "
"Left" could have been many things, but it ended up being the cantina. It's wonderful to have a favorite bartender. ("Where's the little one?" she asked. "Home with Grandmother," Mr. Vorange said. "Ah, then a double for Mama.") Mr. Vorange waited patiently while the bartender and I exchanged parenting stories ("I told him you want me to just poke your eye out FOR you? Which eye? Pick the eye. Because you're gonna lose an eye if you keep doing that!") and she refilled me several times.
Properly fortified against the zombies -- garlic for vampires, bourbon for zombies -- Mr. Vorange steered me successfully back into the car and then into the movie theatre, where I learned firsthand that no amount of alcohol can make Jay Leno previews look more appealing. Some things just won't die, by which I mean Leno's massive advertising campaign.
Whiteout opened with a bunch of Russians in a plane, blowing each other up over a mysterious box. Mr. Vorange chattered happily about in-flight security procedures, the make and model of the plane, and era it was from. I squinted and tried to figure out which one was going to come back to life and bite someone else's face first, so I could hide my eyes in time.
Then the setting switched to an Antarctic research post with lots of happy scientists (the preferred food of creatures that eat brains, I noted darkly) and a not-so-happy U.S. Marshall (professional zombie killer-to-be). It's three days before the last flight out, and she finds a frozen, mangled body. Of course she will have to stay behind to solve the mystery. How else is mayhem going to ensue?
Forty-five minutes later, my arms are getting tired from covering my eyes and there have been no freshly thawed undead sloppily murdering people across the screen. Not only is the movie not gross or stupid, but the story is amazingly good for a horror flick. I haven't wanted to boo a screen-writer or an actor yet. Although I know who the bad guy had to be within 30 seconds of seeing him, the plot is nicely developed and well-told. I've been admiring the use of setting -- an excellent measure of "daily life in Antarctica," but not so much that it makes the plot seem artificial. I want to give the setting a nod for supporting actor for the role it plays in the film. I want to go be a scientist in Antarctica, despite the zombies.
"Where are the zombies?" I finally ask.
"Oh, did I say 'horror'?" My companion has an expression of polite innocence on his face. It's a ruse. Since I've known him, Mr. Vorange has never been either. "I meant action-thriller."
I'd call him on it, but I need a designated driver if I want to get home. Besides, in my head, Indiana Jones has given way to a Phantom of the Opera moment. ("Perhaps, madam, it is you who are the zombie.")
Final analysis -- Whiteout gets four out of five stars for what it was: If not brilliant, definitely a solidly competent and enjoyable action-thriller. Or the least-gross, most-intellectually-engaging zombie movie of the year.