The poster for Frozen is a true work of art. It evokes terror and futility and frustration and does so in a beautiful yet ominous light. And while having something that eye catching in movie theatre lobbies will undoubtedly help sell tickets it also places a burden on the filmmakers, led by director Adam Green, to live up to the terror that is found in that one still.
The story, seemingly inspired by The Call of the Wild, opens with a typical trio of college kids (a couple plus a third wheel) who are out in the mountains enjoying a weekend of skiing before heading back for class. Early on the film is all talk as Green eases us into the action, but as luck would have it the conversations are thick with intrigue and completely realistic. The dynamic that is on display between the three main characters is far richer than you would find in your average Hollywood gore fest and that pays high dividends later on.
The kids, being kids, make a very bad decision and have that followed up by a historically bad stroke of luck. Now it must be said that the absolute best way to experience Frozen is to go in knowing nothing so if you still are clueless as to where the plot goes from here we urge you to navigate away from this page and towards the closest theatre that is playing this fright fest. The rest of you then know that our new friends soon find themselves stranded high above the slopes on the ski lift as the staff has accidentally left them there in their rush to get home. Oh, and the park is closed for the next five days.
Green is shockingly good at playing with his audience and keeping them right where he wants them. The way he tortures us through his characters borders on abuse. His pacing is right on the money and by the time the film ends you realize that he has crafted the best horror flick in years by balancing an arty French feel with old school populism.
And all of that was done with some noticeable budget constraints. The high wire stunt work aside everything else here was obtained on the cheap. It does seem to inflict damage on the integrity of the picture only at one point and that is when a high speed pursuit down a mountainside is left to our imagination.
Surely Green and his backers would argue that it works best this way but we would simply choose to disagree. The first major attempt by the characters to escape appears to be a half way decent idea but it quickly takes a grisly turn leaving them much further up the proverbial creek. From here it would be easy to say that their situation went from bad to worse but that would hardly begin to describe the sheer futility that they keep running into on their way off the mountain. Besides trying to stave off frost bite the characters take time to discuss their past lives and how it affects them now. Those scenes could have come off as heartfelt but instead feel cloying because the music that is being played on the soundtrack slowly creeps in and gets louder and louder until it is unbearably intrusive.
There has been a realization amongst most horror directors that their fan base has next to no standards and that buckets of blood can be purchased for next to nothing. This has led to there being an endless stream of crappy slasher movies that may or may not turn a profit and certainly don’t mean anything to anybody. Green took a more enlightened approach and has almost certainly punched his ticket to the big time by aiming for something slightly higher brow. His film is filled with aggressive chills, severely chilled coeds, and the angriest wolves since The Day After Tomorrow. You’ll squirm in your seat. You’ll feel the characters pain and frustration and indignity . . . and that is the highest compliment I can give to this small masterpiece.
Starring: Emma Bell, Kevin Zegers, Shawn Ashmore, Kane Hodder
Director: Adam Green
Writer: Adam Green
Runtime: 94 minutes
Distributor: Anchor Bay Entertainment
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