Horror Movie Month: "Frozen" Review

Photo Credit: Anchor Bay Films

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Horror Movie Month: "Frozen" Review

Rating: R (some disturbing images and language)
Length: 93 minutes
Release Date: Jan. 24, 2010
Directed by: Adam Green
Genre: Drama/Thriller

"Frozen"is a harrowing thriller movie that delivers maximum fright from a minimalist setup. It was written and directed by Adam Green. The majority of the action takes place in a single setting—a downscale ski resort in New England. These minimalist surroundings are comparable to the 2003 breakout hit"Open Water," where two divers were stranded in the middle of the ocean. In "Frozen," sinister winter coldness is the bane of the characters.

A gripping survival-centered plot elicits a real sense of terror throughout the film.The characters are mostly believable, and the wildlife scenes are convincing enough.

The movie starts off with three friends, Joe Lynch (Shawn Ashmore), Dan Walker (Kevin Zegers), and Dan's girlfriend Parker O'Neil (Emma Bell), enjoying a typical Sunday afternoon at a ski resort on Mount Holliston.The actors deliver solid and believable performances, with Kevin Zegers and Emma Bell displaying ample chemistry as a loving couple. Dan and Parker have been dating for a year, while Joe has been Dan's best buddy since childhood. Shawn Ashmore gives a subtle performance as a jealous yet playful friend who's none too happy with Parker taking his place as Dan's closest companion.

Eager to ride the ski lift without paying the full price, Dan persuades Parker to bribe Jason (Ed Ackerman), the ski-lift attendant. The slopes are about to close for the week, and ominous weather is fast approaching. On the way up, the chairlift halts midway, irritating the three friends. However, their irritation is quickly replaced with terror when they realize the ski resort has closed; they may be stuck on the ski lift for the rest of the week. The dangers of hypothermia, frostbite, hail, and an unexpected pack of wolves await them.

By now, the protagonists have three options: wait until the ski resort reopens, get to the nearest tower by pulling along the wire, or jump off the lift. As the events take place on a Sunday, the area remains closed until Friday, which makes the first option plainly impractical. The second option doesn't look good either because the jagged wire could easily cut through their gloves and hands. The third option appears viable but hardly workable without injuring themselves significantly. Also, there seems to be a pack of territorial wolves surrounding the area.

This predicament brings viewers to the most notable aspect of the movie: a realism that demands attention and convincing lead actors who deliver powerful performances. Thanks to Green's sharp dialogue, Joe and Dan's close-knit relationship as longtime buddies is effectively established onscreen. Despite her lack of experience, Emma Bell is comfortable in the role of Dan's girlfriend.

There's a palpable atmosphere of danger as the characters realize they're stuck in a life-or-death situation."Frozen" sustains high tension from the beginning to the end as it keeps the audience guessing how, if even possible, any of the three leads will survive the dangerous situation. Added to the distressing scenarios are complex elements of friendship, jealousy, and desperation. Green skillfully establishes a suspense-filled dynamic, allowing the audience to empathize with the characters' emotional intensities. At times in the movie, some people may find there is a little too much tension.

Surprisingly, the characters manage to keep their cool most of the time—save for a few arguments about who's to blame for the predicament. Parker and Joe eventually warm up to each other, albeit they don't seem that close at first. In this precarious situation, both of them learn to help one another in order to survive.

"Frozen" succeeds in making the audience care for the characters, but its focus on the three major roles could have been widened without detriment to the narrative. With a ski-lift chair as the principal setting, the buildup is long and gradual, and some parts of the movie appear drawn out as the leads wait for something to happen to them. It relies heavily on suspense, keeping the audience waiting for the ultimate fate of the characters. Nonetheless, it's a promising plot with a dark script that brings life to the premise. The three characters chatter almost incessantly until they decide to take action about their situation. They talk a lot about mundane things as they while away time. These tidbits of information about the characters' personal lives make them more relatable.

Overall, "Frozen" is a slow-paced movie that redeems itself with the actors' above-average performances, well-chosen setting, and great directing.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5