Release date: September 28, 2010 (DVD/Blue ray)
Director: Adam Green
Rileah Vanderbilt and
Frozen plot is the story of three twenty-somethings stranded on a mountain ski lift as they attempt to get one more ski out of the day before heading home. Stuck on a Sunday night with no one coming back to the mountain ski resort until the following friday, the three must find out a way to get down from their predicament or they will freeze to death. It's a story that seems simple would not require too much screen time, but Green is able to work the human element into Frozen just enough to justify the length of the film.
Of course, instead of gore and violence Green turns up the sound wanting you to instead having to listen. It's gut-wrenching, and as you see the actors' horrified/concerned faces Green forces you listen even longer than anticipated to the point you've almost gotten used to it. This is when you want to have the camera hurry up and turn towards the horrors. You want the feeling you felt to be paid off in some way, whether you get that pay-off or not is for you to find out as I suggest any fan of such genre fare seek this film out.
The film of course has drawbacks, such as our directors inability to give us an idea of the situation we are walking into. Suttle hints are given to us earlier in the film that suggest this isn't exactly the best operated of ski resorts. Cheap lift tickets which can be made even cheaper by giving the lift operator a little extra money and the shaky and old ski lift that we see stall early in the film, foreshadowing the eventual error that will follow.
What bugs me most about the film though is that the director doesn't use the "fear of heights" to his advantage. Anyone who like me, is afraid heights would probably agree upon seeing the film that this would just add to the tension and fear if he were to add this element. There are no real clear scenes early in the film to give us an idea of just how high up they are. There is one scene in the movie that gives us a clue, but this is later and it seems to me that the director missed his real opportunity to establish a "height fear" early in the film, which would of just added to the scare.
Watching Frozen feels kind of like watching a documentary. Limited camera angles give you the "being there" sense, I suspect that if Green had a bigger budget this would have been an insane film had it been shot for IMAX and truly delivered on the scale of being stranded on a mountain side in below-freezing weather. It's a really great plot, but I couldn't get the thought out of my mind as the on screen terror sent my imagination running wild.
Playing our three abandoned skiers are Shawn Ashmore, Emma Bell and Kevin Zegers. With the exception of the early dialog, there is a back-and-forth in the middle of Frozen that comes off "real" as Ashmore tells a story of his past with Zegers's character and Bell thinks of how her being dead will affect her pet. This is the moment the typical horror film would immediately turn for the gore element, throw in a sex scene or have some annoying character that you don't care about at all going on and on about how they don't want to die. Instead, Green brought a real human moment into the movie by writing great dialogue, which his actors pulled off to perfection, eventually moving the story into the third act.
Frozen is a genre film that like most has it's flaws, but it shows some major signs of a director with a great understanding of what it means to set up a story, what to give to the audience and what to hold off on to deliver later for greater impact. There are of course some "queasy" moments later in the film — the film definetely suprised me and though it probably won't make it into anyone's top 50 it certainly is something that all of the horror genre fans should consider checking out.