Adam Green | 2010 | 94 min | US
I know Adam Green has some adoring fans and fierce detractors based on his breakthrough film, Hatchet, so let me say I am no fan of Hatchet. I felt that clunker sunk under the weight of its knowing winks. Just wanted to get that out in the open. Depending on your camp, that opinion may well improve my stock considerably or render the following review void. Now on with it.
Frozen is what some would call "high concept" and others would call "gimmicky." The one sentence pitch is: three friends find themselves trapped on a chairlift during a doomed ski trip after the hill shuts down. That's it. It is the kind of concept that requires smart dialogue, great sound design, excellent pacing, and remarkable performances to pull off. Luckily, Frozen delivers on all of these fronts. I know. I'm shocked too.
The truth is, Frozen had me scared, clenching my teeth, and racing through my own escape plans while I watched. Though I wouldn't call it an outright phobia, I am a touch sensitive when it comes to heights and Frozen perfectly captures the feeling of swaying in the cold breeze, far above hard packed snow. There was never a moment when I did not feel acutely aware of the danger of the situation.
The three core actors shoulder a lot of responsibility in this film. It could have easily fallen flat with a less able cast. Both male leads, Kevin Zegers and Shawn Ashmore, are recognizable by face if not by name, but it is Emma Bell who is the real discovery. Previously relegated to mostly television guest appearances, I assume we will be seeing much more of her after this film. Each actor is excellent at conveying the shifting dynamics of their relationships as their plight grows more dire.
To say much more about the plot or development would be to spoil the film, but I give it a hearty recommendation. If you have any sensitivity to heights or cool weather, Frozen is going to work you over, but the appeal is certainly broader than to phobics alone. This is precisely the kind of horror we need. In a landscape of played out sequels and retreads, Frozen is taut, original, and crawls under your skin. I hope it proves successful enough to make known that it is the kind of horror we deserve.
Frozen opens theatrically on February 5th.