Director – Adam Green
Cast – Emma Bell, Shawn Ashmore, Kevin Zegers, Ed Ackerman, Rileah Vanderbilt, Kane Hodder, Adam Johnson, Chris York
Release Year – 2010
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Adam Green’s Frozen is a film I have been anticipating for quite some time due to the success of his epic 2006 slasher film Hatchet, and the fact that this is his first feature film since his positive 2007 psychological horror flick Spiral. Deemed the aspen equivalent to Open Water, Frozen relies heavily on tension and what is NOT seen to move the viewer, and while Green did a fantastic job bringing on the tension he brought little else to the plate, which kept this from being an incredible watch.
Frozen follows Parker O’Neil(Emma Bell; The Walking Dead), her boyfriend Joe(Shawn Ashmore; The Ruins, X-Men trilogy), and his best friend Dan(Kevin Zegers; Dawn of the Dead remake, Fear of the Dark, Wrong Turn) as they wiggle their way into a ski-lodge/resort for a weekend of fun and the abandonment of their real life problems. As the park begins to close for the night they manage to hitch a ride on the very last ski-lift of the night, which comes with dire consequences. The park closes before they reach their destination, and the trio is left dangling 50 feet off the ground, and with uninhabitable elements closing in as night settles. What was supposed to be a weekend of fun has now turned into a night of terror the friends will never forget…if they survive.
Given all of the positive buzz I had heard/read regarding this film, I think I went into this watch with overly high expectations. The idea of setting a film in such a simple yet tense aspen environment excited me because in my mind I believed that it was going to force Adam Green to get really creative in his execution of the film, but I seem to have overestimated this one. I enjoyed all of the tension written and executed in the film, but sadly the tension did not bring as strong of a presence in the film as I expected it to, and we were left with many scenes that were downright slow and somewhat uninteresting, sadly. I know that this film was a fairly low-budget effort from Adam Green, so it really could be that budgetary constraints kept this film from moving to bigger and better things, and while I can forgive him for such things the film is what it is in the end.
As far as story goes the overall plot is obviously simple, and most of the tension comes from the usage of our three main characters in the film. The mental anguish that would normally torment someone in such a situation is brought forth in the film, and thankfully this is pursued with social breakdown amongst the trio as they become more and more desperate for help and a way out of their immense dilemma. The fact that they are exposed to uninhabitable elements adds to this tension because time is not of the essence, which forces them to decide on some very drastic measures that do not turn out for the better. While we get some great tension regarding the scenes in which (possible spoiler) they try and escape the stalled ski-lift, this was somewhat ruined by the addition of the overly cliché pack of wolves that torments the friends. I really saw this as cheap and a pretty lazy addition to what was already a positive film, and in my mind this was one of the biggest detriments of the film. Aside from this , the downtime between the action was a bit too uneventful and uninteresting for my liking, which was probably unavoidable given the location of the film, which limits what the characters can do in the meantime. Nonetheless, that is the risk you take giving this film such a setting.
Direction-wise Adam Green shows that he definitely still has some great talent and knows how to execute some good tension. He does not show a whole lot in this film, and the fact that he was able to turn simple scenes into tension filled scenes is a testament to what he can do as a director. His camera-work is top-notch, and he provides some good sets that helped bring about the tension he so perfectly executed, especially his gutsy call in actually filming the actors in a ski-lift suspended 50 feet in the air. While I did not like the addition of the wolves in the film, he did manage to utilize them to bring some unsettling events to screen, events that had me feeling utter remorse for what was going on. These were definitely the most hard-hitting scenes in the film, so despite the wolves idea being a bit cliché we at least get some positive out of it.
Unfortunately, the climax of the film is one I found uninspiring and pretty dull, just like many of the scenes we are exposed to during the film’s downtimes.
Overall, this is a borderline-positive watch that I really expected to be much better thanks over-hyping around the horror realm. In the end however we still get some great tension at the hands of Adam Green, just be prepared to sit with the same helplessness as the lead protagonists during this film’s dull slow scenes.