If I were skier or snowboarder, I would definitely be thinking twice before ascending the mountain on a chairlift after watching Frozen. This movie can make you laugh, cry, and cringe—all in about 90 minutes.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Adam Green and that I’ve been excited about Frozen for a while. Hatchet was better than sliced bread and Green's second outing, Spiral, was also impressive. Does Frozen live up to his other films? Did it meet expectations? I’ll take “Yes” for 300 Alex.
The stark, foreboding tone is established from the opening credits. The film’s title is shown across blackness in plain white letters that take up the entire screen. It’s followed by a small montage of gears, cable, and other mechanical operations of the chairlift. The harsh simplicity of the first couple minutes seized me.
I promise they don't look as much like Abercrombie models as they do in this picture.
Frozen continues to introduce us to Parker, Lynch, and Dan—three college students hitting the slopes to ignore the stress of school/work for a single day. Parker and Dan are dating, which makes Lynch, the longtime best friend, the third wheel. Green wisely spends quite a bit of time allowing us to get to know the characters before things go awry. The actors are good, the characters are likeable, and their dynamic trio is interesting without being ridden in drama. The circumstances are subtly built up throughout, weaved in and out of comedic dialogue. The fact that their cell phones are stashed in their lockers, or that Parker has a lone puppy in her apartment are plot points which are planted without force.
Just pondering the meaning of his existence...
The moment we’ve all been waiting for: when things go wrong. For the characters, it’s a slow realization that they are indeed stranded high in the air, with no one coming back to the ski resort for five days. The trailer privies us to some of the major threats they face: frostbite, starvation, hypothermia, falling, and wild animals. Unlike Hatchet, the horror of Frozen is grounded in realism. This makes it less fun, but all the more tense and gut-wrenching. I kept imaging myself in the character’s place: what would I do? Unlike most films, Green has most of the options covered. They literally try just about everything to survive. There’s nothing more frustrating than a movie where the audience is yelling at the dim-witted character to do this or that, and it never happens. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case here.
"Am I breaking out?"
Taking a turn from the lightheartedness (if you can call it that) of Hatchet and picking up dramatic elements of Spiral, Frozen demonstrates Green’s directorial range with emotion. Some have called Frozen heartbreaking. And it’s true. While tragic incidents occur, one particular moment almost had me in tears. Parker has a speech about her puppy, worrying that she will starve to death locked inside her apartment. The delivery, as Parker exudes a range of human emotions from fear, guilt, and sorrow, just gets to you.
Frozen had the key components to making a great movie: character and story. The technical elements, while not always perfect, fell into place well. It helped that everything was shot practically on location, meaning there is no computer generated imagery in the film. It’s so much easier to buy into the world of the film when everything you are seeing is real. Kudos to Green for rejecting the suggestion to shoot inside a warm, cozy studio. The acting and directing are top-notch, with just a couple rough patches in the beginning. The cinematography showed restraint, which was good. It was simple, yet effective. The camera never becomes too much of a character or a distraction from what is occurring with the characters. Plus, the film looked remarkably good considering the lack of source lighting options during the night scenes and considering the film’s budget. I have some issues with the score, or rather the implementation of the score in certain moments, as well as some editorial choices. The film has a tendency to cut too quickly and too often. I’m assuming the filmmakers felt the need to show a variety of angles, thinking we would be bored with looking at the same people and location, but during the tense moments, no one was bored.
Now that's what I call location filmmaking.
I highly recommend Frozen to horror fans and non-horror fans. For the horror fan boys and girls, you’ll enjoy the cameos by Adam Green, Joe Lynch, and Kane Hodder. For the non-horror crowd, you’ll enjoy coming up with ways you would handle the dire situation differently. It’s a great film that deserves more screens and more publicity than it has received. If you live in an area that is playing Frozen, try your best to support independent horror this weekend! Head over to Airescope Pictures to see if it’s playing near you.