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There’s something immensely enjoyable about trying to put yourself in the place of a horror movie character and imagining how you’d fair in their situation. What’s the best part of this fantasy scenario? It’s fake. But Frozen makes it feel so real that it’ll keep you from hitting the slopes anytime soon.
Dan (Kevin Zegers) and his best buddy Joe (Shawn Ashmore) frequently enjoy leaving their problems behind and spending time on the mountain. But this week, one of Joe’s problems came along for the ride, Dan’s girlfriend Parker (Emma Bell). Not only has she created a slight disconnect between the childhood friends, but she’s not the most talented snowboarder. Just as the slopes are about to close, the trio convince the chairlift operator to let them squeeze in one more run. Thanks to some miscommunication, the lift is shut down before they reach the top, leaving them stranded in the dead of night.
Rather than rip your heart out, it’s a relief to see the stars marooned. Up until this point, Frozen is an icy mess. The acting is pitiful and the dialogue particularly atrocious. Everything is so incredibly forced between the three friends that their relationships come off as unnatural. Their mouths are filled with inane and chestnut prattle that makes them completely unlikable. What’s especially amazing is how little effect this terrible set-up has on the rest of the film.
Once the chairlift stops, Frozen starts. At first the three get a giggle out of their situation, but the initial shock quickly wears off as they realize they could be stuck for an entire week. Things go from bad to worse when snow starts to fall, frostbite sets in and terrifying plans of escape become reality.
Green doesn’t hold back in the least when it comes to the sheer terror of the situation. There’s gore, screaming and disturbing concepts guaranteed to make you squirm in your seat. What makes each element so powerful is how real they feel, which, ironically, is somewhat due to the characters. The group that was once inauthentic becomes so emotionally engaging that their predicament will break your heart. Of course this reaction also stems from the peril and extreme nature of their situation.
As the friends start to fall apart, we get to see every gory detail – literally. Rather than a slasher movie stab-and-go, the suffering the characters endure is so drawn out, there’s ample time to digest the situation and really relate to their pain. Even the less-physical moments are powerful. Bell delivers one particular monologue that, if you’re a dog owner, will move you to tears.
Thanks to the intense degree of terror, a handful of Frozen’s faults will likely go unnoticed. Green incorporates a number of scenic shots, but apparently forgot to change the camera position. The company that manufactured the lift is almost as prominent as the main characters. A particular view of the machine with ‘Swisher’ branded on it is shown throughout the film. But that is far less distracting than the film’s score. At times it’s brilliant as the violin kicks in at a precise moment making the scene far more eerie. But at other times, when two characters are having a heart-to-heart, don’t cue the orchestra. Misused music frequently strips those moments of any genuineness and turns them into caricature.
Ultimately Frozen weathers the storm and delivers a truly horrifying experience. It’s nearly impossible to keep your hands from covering your eyes or at least taking a quick breather and glancing to the side of the screen. More importantly, Frozen is just a fun film. This is a perfect movie to enjoy with your friends, not because it’s too frightening to see alone, but because it evokes the kind of WTF/OMG reaction and that’s just awkward to share that with a stranger.