Deadly Blessing, I wrote that director Wes Craven could be a hit-or-miss filmmaker, either making something superb like A Nightmare on Elm Street or dreck like Deadly Friend. Unfortunately, Chiller (1985), a made-for-TV thriller, falls right on its ass in the latter category. While it contains some potentially interesting thematic ideas common throughout Craven's oeuvre, Chiller is mostly a weak, visually static enterprise.
Miles Creighton (Michael Beck) has been cryogenically frozen for ten years when his containment unit malfunctions, and he's thawed out. Fortunately, the condition that killed him is now treatable, much to the delight of his mother Marion (Beatrice Straight), who sees it all as a miracle (what was she waiting for if the cure was available?). But something seems off about Miles. When he returns to his late father's company, he cruelly fires the family friend who kept it running in his absence and orders the company to halt any charitable contributions; anything that isn't making money must go, he decrees. Before long, Revered Penny (Paul Sorvino), the family's pastor, becomes convinced that Miles has returned from the afterlife without his soul, but Marion refuses to believe her son might be evil.
Craven also returns to territory he explored in A Nightmare on Elm Street: the sins of the father. In Nightmare, the parent vigilantes who killed Freddy Kruger live in denial about what they've done, and it's up to their children to "wake up" to the threat if they're going to survive. In Chiller, Marion is in complete denial about Miles' new behavior, coming up with a different rationalizations each time someone tries to tell her the truth. She's an enabler. However, Nightmare also had the strong, resourceful character of Nancy Thompson who sought the truth about Kruger, but here, there isn't any particularly strong protagonist to root for.
Most disappointing of all is Craven's direction. There's no style or tension, the imagery looks flat and uninteresting, and the pace drags. There's nothing on screen to suggest any passion for this project. This one leaves me cold.