Synopsis: It remains perhaps the most intense and terrifying film of the year: As Sunday evening falls, three snowboarding friends decide to take one last run down the slope. Halfway up the mountain, their chair lift stops, the lights go out and the resort closes for the week. They are stranded, but the worst is still to come. A storm is approaching. Frostbite is setting in. And on the ground below them, a pack of hungry wolves has gathered to wait. Kevin Zegers (Dawn Of The Dead, Wrong Turn), Shawn Ashmore (X-Men, The Ruins) and Emma Bell star in the relentlessly chilling thriller from writer/director Adam Green (Hatchet) that Harry Knowles of Ain’t It Cool News hails as “a vicious, scary and horrifying experience…Frozen is a howling good time!”
When ‘Frozen’ was first released, I knew very little about the film other than its premise, which was intriguing. Then I quickly forgot about it – until I read a favourable review of the blu-ray on a site that I trust. From that point onward, it was on my radar.
Last October, while scouring for Hallowe’en-themed movies, I discovered that a local chain had it for sale at 5$. I decided to take the plunge. But, while I was quite drawn to it, I figured that it might be better to wait until winter for maximum effect. It is, after all, called ‘Frozen’.
There’s not much I can say about the film without revealing key components and deflating its well-crafted tension, other than to say that it’s about three young adults who get stranded on a ski lift with no hope for rescue until five days later – and how they cope with the situation.
It’s slightly misleading, because it starts off as a mundane teen flick, initially giving the viewer the impression that there’s nothing worth seeing. In fact, I can imagine people turning it off before it ever gets going – which would be a shame because, the moment the trio gets on the ski lift, one simply can’t look away.
While it’s only a three-person, one-location motion picture, the tension is palpable and virtually unrelenting: in fully understanding the scale of the danger they’re facing and the risks that they may need to take, it’s impossible to not be on edge, waiting to find out what will come next, which decisions will be taken and what their outcome will be.
At first glance, I’d say that it’s fairly realistic – for a worst-case scenario situation such as this. Although my buddy and I wondered about the strength of the ski lift, since neither of us really had any point of reference, it left us quizzical, but not entirely incredulous. Otherwise, one gets the sense that everything that takes place on screen could actually happen for real.
As a side note, Adam Green claims to suffer from acrophobia (it’s one of the reasons that he wrote and directed the film, apparently). And yet he personally filmed from high up in the ski lift, on a makeshift contraption, to give a sense of reality to the audience. I was quite impressed with this, because he chose to face his fears and exorcise them in doing this project – he refused to be a slave to them.
One of the film’s strength is in making three rather conventional, if not bland, characters NOT boring. While they’re not especially interesting, the risks that they face makes even the most mundane exchange more engaging, almost as repose from the nerve-rattling suspense that will inevitably return. It’s not unlike ‘Open Water’ in this respect.
Frankly, I was quite impressed with ‘Frozen’: it proves that you can do so much with very little when you have a terrific idea, and are surrounded by imaginative and skilled people. It may not have tons of replay value, but I’d recommend it to anyone who’s either in the mood for a survival story and/or for a little chill down their spine.