Upon the release of the campy slasher sub-genre tribute “Hatchet”, director Adam Green because a horror movie rockstar, practically overnight. Some say he deserves it, some say the opposite. Regardless, Green had instantly become a household name. “Frozen” wasn’t treated with the same level of hype that “Hatchet” was. So far, the biggest push for the film’s success has come in the form of positive reviews across the horror blogosphere. In the interest of full disclosure, I hate it when people compare films to “Jaws”. Any time I see “Does for blah blah blah what Jaws did for blah blah blah”, I instantly want to hate the film. I think it’s a tired comparison, but maybe that’s just a peronsal pet peeve. If I were to compare the film to anything, I would say it’s “Open Water” on a ski lift. That may or may not sound appealing to you, but it really is an example of solid film making.
“Frozen” follows three friends as they visit a mountain resort for some skiing/snowboarding. Not having enough money for all three of them to purchase ski lift tickets, the girl of the group sweet talks the lift operator into a discount price. Arriving late in the day, and spending most of their time on the bunny slopes, the trio talk the operator into letting them go up the mountain one more time, even though they are shutting down the mountain for the week. After granting their request, the need to take a leak causes him to pass the proverbial torch to another employee, he makes sure and tells him to not shut it down till the last three come down the hill, unfortunately, there are actually three on the hill, and three still on the lift. After the operator sees three skiiers clearing the bottom of the hill, he shuts the lift down, and begins to shut the lights down for the long week. Our three friends are now trapped in mid-air, and have just realized that there will be nobody to save them till the following Friday.
If you’re looking for a brutal hack and slash, campy slasher, or grizzly revenge tale, you’re looking in the wrong place. “Frozen” is terrorizing from a psychological standpoint. Yes, there are some cringe inducing moments, but they take a backseat to the overwhelming sense of dread. It’s quite an accomplishment to take a concept such as three people stranded on a ski lift in the middle of it’s run, and keep people on the edge of their seats. Jaws references aside, this is exactly what Green does. The range of emotions that are portrayed by the characters are cognate to those that one would feel if in the same situation. Add the isolation to the height, and the harsh weather conditions, and it creates an absolutely dreadful scenario.
Luckily for us, Green insisted on filming everything practically. This means, not only are scenes of body damage genuine, and lacking in CG, but there is no green screen to give the actors a sense of relief while filming. Personally, I think this added to the performances, dangling in the air would have to increase one’s sense of anxiety, which pays off well when that is what the actor is trying to relay to the audience. Not to mention that the few moments of gore presented in the film are that much better. Some filmmakers don’t realize what a difference this makes. Sure, in some cases CG may be easier on your budget, but if it’s handled poorly(which most instances of CGI are) it takes the viewer out of the film. It’s hard to create a creepy atmosphere, or dreadful, tense situations when your audience is busy laughing at your cartoony, piss-poor excuse for special effects.
The acting is superb across the board. Emma Bell, who has scored a role on AMC’s upcoming comic-based zombie epic “The Walking Dead’ turns in a particularly convincing performance as Parker, the intruding girlfriend. Emma brings a sense of authenticity to her role, and I look forward to seeing what she can do in the fore mentioned series. Shawn Ashmore, who some may remember as Iceman in the X-Men movies, or for the horror buffs, he played Eric in “The Ruins”, puts in a pitch perfect performance as the quirky, jealous best friend.Kevin Zegers, whom some may recognize from the “Air Bud” movies, or more to the point, Evan, from “Wrong Turn” plays the boyfriend trying to keep the peace between his girlfriend, and his best friend. Also making an appearance as a staff member of the ski spot is Kane Hodder. It’s a hell of a cast, and they work well together to create a genuinely terrifying cinematic experience.
Despite the lack of hype this time around, I was worried that “Frozen” would get a little more praise than it deserved. I enjoyed “Hatchet” as much as the next slasher fan, but there are those out there that treat it as the holy grail of horror. “Frozen” proves to me that there’s a superbly talented filmmaker within Adam Green, and I look forward to his more serious entries into the genre. “Frozen” is a slow burning, psychologically terrifying film, so it may not be for everyone. Fans of “Hatchet” will most likely be disappointed if they’re going into this picture expecting the same level of comedic campiness. Fans of slow paced thrillers, almost in a Hitchcockian sense will be pleasantly surprised. I am comfortable to highly recommend “Frozen” . Actually, if you have the means, pick up the Blu ray when it drops on September 28th. The picture, filmed in 35mm really pops in it’s crisp full 1080p presentation.