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Review: Chilly ‘Edge of Winter’ endures trials of surviving father

Percy Hynes White, left, and Joel Kinnaman in the movie "Edge of Winter."
(Vertical Entertainment)

You know from the get-go that no good is going to come of the bonding experience between an unstable father and his sons in “Edge of Winter,” but that doesn’t deprive this backcountry Canadian thriller of a serviceably chilling, if conventional, allure.

When his ex-wife and her new husband go off on vacation, the out-of-work and out-of-sorts Elliot Baker (Joel Kinnaman) seizes upon the opportunity to get closer to 15-year-old Bradley (Tom Holland) and 12-year-old Caleb (Percy Hynes White), taking them on an excursion in his remote neck of the woods.

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Determined to toughen up the kids by introducing them to shooting, driving and the taste of beer, it’s clear that Elliot will never be in the running for Dad of the Year, but nevertheless, getting stranded in a remote cabin proves to be the least of the boys’ worries.

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While first-time feature director Rob Connolly sets a workable mood with the snowy, shiver-inducing environs — call it Northern Gothic — he and co-scriptwriter Kyle Mann prove less adept at addressing numerous plot inconsistencies and character flaws.

There’s an effectively tense dynamic between Swedish actor Kinnaman (AMC’s “The Killing”) and Holland, who appealingly announced his arrival as the latest Spider-Man in “Captain America: Civil War,” but, committed performances aside, Kinnaman’s tortured soul cries out for a less predictable path en route to the abyss.

Even so, a frostbitten B-movie can still provide a little welcome relief in the dead of summer. “Edge of Winter” suffices as a diverting breath of recycled cool air.

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‘Edge of Winter’

MPAA rating: R, for language and some violence

Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes

Playing: In limited release

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