Directed By Adam Green
Starring: Shawn Ashmore, Emma Bell, Kevin Zegers
In Mount Holliston, snowboarders Dan Walker (Zegers), and Joe Lynch (Ashmore) along with Dan’s girlfriend Parker O'Neil (Bell) don't have enough money to buy cable car tickets. Parker bribes an employee of the skiing station, Jason, with one hundred dollars. When the cable car system is nearing closure, they persuade Jason to let them have the last pass. However, Jason gets distracted and his colleague misunderstands his instructions and ultimately stops the cable car. The trio of snowboarders get stranded on the chairlift near the top of the mountain. When they see the lights of the ski resort get turned off, they are forced to make a choice: leave the chairlift or freeze to death. Events take a turn and the temperature becomes the least of their problems.
I saw Hatchet (Adam’s Green’s previous feature) and found it to be a competent homage to 80s slasher flicks, complete with some inventive gore scenes. Based on Hatchet, and reading the publicity blurb on Frozen, I mistakenly formed an opinion of where I thought the film would go. This opinion was bolstered by seeing Kane Hodder on the cast list. For those who don’t know, Kane played Jason Vorhees, the man behind the mask in the Friday the 13th movies. He also played Victor Crowley, a Jason Vorhees type slasher, in Adam Green’s Hatchet.
I was very wrong. You see I thought, somehow, a serial killer element would be part of the movie. This would involve Kane Hodder and we would find that his character Cody had staged the whole event. I recognise that having only three potential victims wouldn’t make much of a slasher flick but then it would depend on how it was handled. Instead I found the movie to be a little more mundane and tensionless.
Don’t get me wrong, Frozen has its moments and I will elaborate these as the review goes on.
The cast are excellent, it has to be said. You will recognise Shawn Ashmore from the X-Men movies. He played Bobby “Iceman” Drake. Emma Bell has been in a modest amount of US TV shows including Supernatural and Dollhouse. Look out for her soon, in The Walking Dead. Horror movie genre fans will recognise Kevin Zegers from Dawn of the Dead (2004) and Wrong Turn. Adam Green’s screenplay gives the three actors a lot to emote. I can imagine that the shoot was quite difficult. Each character goes through a range of emotions in this movie and all rise to the challenge. Green writes decent dialogue and I can find no fault with it, although Bell’s monologue about her dog being left in her apartment was a bit too twee for my tastes. However, it was realistic and dramatically played very well by Bell.
The initial scenes of the three sitting with the thought that they’ll be stranded on a freezing cable car chair is performed very well, especially when the first icy sleet hits and the reality of the situation really hits home. The strength of the writing and acting delivers scenes that are believable up to a point. The point I refer to is the threat from below. I realise that there needed to be a deus ex machina to move the plot along. I would have preferred that the threat be from something else as I was never sold on the idea that wolves would actively attack and kill a human being, however helpless. The scene where Joe shields Parker from witnessing her boyfriend torn to shreds is convincing. The scenes where Lynch negotiates the razor sharp cable to get to the ladder are the few with any real tension. Lastly, the feeling of isolation, loneliness and uncertainty were well presented as the camera focuses on a frost-bitten Parker towards the end of the movie and it’s more intellectual fears like this that I wished the movie had lingered on more. But, guess what? They don’t put bums on seats as much as a good old fashioned chewed up corpse, so I have sympathy with Green for going down that route of story telling. It worked because Frozen made a large amount at the US box office.
Green is another Writer/Director that I have high hopes for. He shows, with Frozen, a maturity of storytelling that could well be mined in future projects. He’s definitely capable of some classic work, if allowed. Also, big Kudos also for practically filming Frozen and not falling back on a green soundstage. That pushes my score up a bit.
So, you’d think reading the above that I thoroughly enjoyed the movie but sadly I found it lacking in suspense. Overall, whilst the movie lacked terror, it doesn’t hide the fact that I found enough to recommend the movie to people who might be a little less jaded. The writing, direction and acting is all very good. It’s miles better than other horror movies around at present that purport to be scary with a couple of cameras, and Paranormal in the title. So, make of it what you will.
I have to have one last pop at using quotes for publicity. Likening the movie to Jaws because the production company is called “A Bigger Boat” and the dialogue references the movie, whilst having wolves (with big teeth) is ludicrous. Frozen isn’t bad but does not parallel the Spielberg masterpiece in any shape or form.