Film Review: Frozen

If you saw ‘Jaws’ and never wanted to swim in the ocean again, or were put off camping in the woods by ‘The Blair Witch Project,’ then ‘Frozen’ will have you adding skiing to your ‘never to do’ list. The appeal of life on the slopes has always eluded me and this chilly horror yarn did nothing to change my opinion. It was not just the grisly happenings in the film that were shocking, but also the fact that early on in the story the main protagonists pay a hundred dollar bribe to be allowed onto a ski-lift. One hundred dollars! Good God, how much do ski-lifts normally cost? Anyway, the poor fools learn to regret their backhander as it lands them in terrible peril.

Teenagers Dan (Kevin Zegers) and Parker (Emma Bell), a fresh pair of lovebirds, are on a snowboarding trip in the New England resort of Mount Holliston. Dan’s best buddy Joe (Shawn Ashmore), has also come along but he spends much of the time whining about the fact that Parker is spoiling what was intended to be a lads’ weekend away. He is certainly not impressed by her hopeless snowboarding skills. With night falling fast on the mountain, the trio takes their illicit trip on the ski-lift which proves to be a potentially fatal mistake. The staff at Mount Holliston are clearly in need of a health and safety refresher course as an alarming act of negligence results in the lift being closed down. The three friends are abandoned and left hanging high in the air.

‘Frozen’ awoke a long dormant memory of one day in the Seventies when I found myself trapped in a chairlift at a holiday camp with my grandmother. That was pretty frightening but then I was only five years old. Still, it was nothing compared to what the characters in this film go through. They are suspended a hundred feet from the ground in biting cold and pitch darkness. There’s a storm on the way and hungry wolves circling below. With no chance of rescue until the resort opens again the following weekend, the teenagers’ long-term prospects are none too bright. Their possible escape routes are limited and high-risk. They could try jumping and possibly break every bone in their bodies or else shimmy along the razor sharp cable to a nearby pylon. Whichever they choose, their time is running out.

It is often said that the simple ideas are always the best and they do not come any more basic than the scenario in ‘Frozen.’ The director and writer Adam Green (apparently he was responsible for an earlier cult shocker called ‘Hatchet’ which somehow passed me by) milks his three people hanging in the air set-up as much as possible, seeming to enjoy laying endless indignities and misfortunes upon his characters. Overall, the film works extremely well, with genuine nail-nibbling tension and some wince-inducing moments. If you are of a squeamish nature, purchasing a large popcorn to hide your eyes behind is advisable. Without wanting to give too much away, frostbite is the least of the physical traumas which the teenagers go through.

The three leads start off as the typical cocky and slightly annoying sorts who normally end up as mincemeat in horror films but when they are facing a cold and horrible death you do actually feel sorry for them. Their predicament ensures that they are not going anywhere soon so there is some down-time to talk about regrets and soon to be extinguished dreams. With their attempts at salvation reaching new levels of desperation and determination, you really want the trio to get away. The convincing performances help a great deal, although the wolves (some of whom are actually dogs) are very good, too, and are deceptively beautiful.

The plot of ‘Frozen’ relies on an unfortunate coincidence to set itself in motion but it is not all that far-fetched. Compared to stories of hockey-mask wearing serial killers and other paranormal beasties the events in the film could actually happen. ‘Frozen’ unfolds like a tragedy which you might read about on your morning commute and think, ‘That’s like something out of a movie.’ For this reason, the film has a degree of resonance which left me still thinking about it the next day. Even now there are parts of ‘Frozen’ which still come back to me and evoke an appropriate shudder. How often does a movie affect you like that?

Director: Adam Green

Cast: Emma Bell, Kevin Zegers, Shawn Ashmore

Runtime: 96 mins.

About Alan Diment

Is a freelance writer and film critic. A total film buff who lives and breathes movies.

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