Friday, 24 September 2010

Frozen

2010
Dir. Adam Green



Hoping to spend some quality time at a tranquil ski resort, a trio of twenty-something’s – best friends Joe (Shawn Ashmore), Dan (Kevin Zegers), and Dan’s girlfriend Parker (Emma Bell), instead experience a chilling nightmare when they are unexpectedly stranded on a chairlift shortly after the ski resort closes for the week. Unknowingly left dangling high above the ground and with no apparent safe way down as night begins to set in, with increasing panic they soon realize that the threats of frostbite and hypothermia are the least of their worries.

Forced to take extremely desperate measures in order to survive the bitter cold, overcome unexpected obstacles and attempt to reach safety, the three friends are driven to ask not only if they have the will to survive, but also to consider what are the worst ways to die…


Having already caused quite a stir on the festival circuit, prompting responses from critics such as “terrifying… will do for skiing what Jaws did for swimming” Frozen is the latest shocker from writer-director Adam Green (Hatchet; Spiral) who is fast making a name for himself as a director of low-budget, highly effective horror fare. Taking a simple and highly relatable premise (much like the makers of the likes of Adrift and Open Water did) and milking it for all its terrifying potential, Green has crafted a highly compelling, frustrating, chilling and hand-over-mouth suspenseful man vs. nature flick. Squeezing every last drop of tension and anxiety from this simple premise, the uneasy atmosphere evident from the opening scenes, with shots of the imposing mechanics of the ski-lift and the establishing shots of endless mountains and snow, is throughout the film built to an almost overwhelming maelstrom of intensity.

The circumstances that lead to the characters being stranded are a little contrived, but hey, this small series of seemingly inconsequential events – and staggering incompetence – was necessary in order to place the three characters in the dire situation that forms the basis of the film. Once they’re trapped and the realisation of their dangerous and potentially fatal situation sinks in, then the real fun begins and the tension mounts as they become more desperate and frenzied to get out of the chairlift and onto the ground.

Of course this film, like similarly designed ones (the incredulous Adrift immediately springs to mind), have niggling little flaws and are guaranteed to have viewers shrieking at the characters on-screen as they make wrong decisions and suffer the ghastly consequences. Because of course, we the audience, would never be so dumb. Right? Wrong. Green throws in a number of twists to silence smug viewers and is able to convey how people react differently in moments of extreme circumstances. The film also has fun in subverting character types and as events progress; we learn more about the characters, their hopes and dreams, fears and short-comings. Now this is obviously not life-altering, award-winning stuff here, but the actors carry off their roles well and we’re provided with the bare minimum of information we need to at least care a little for them – if even on a merely human level. This is a taut thriller after all, solely designed to provide suspense, anxiety and give the old adrenaline glands a work out. Which it does with relative ease.

The nature of fear and how we deal with our own fears is addressed at several points throughout the course of events – to begin with its simple enough: characters discuss fears such as heights, sharks and death, which provokes a debate about horrible ways to die – some of which are slyly reflective of events to come. Many scenarios and plans to make it to the ground are offered and discussed before being implemented, with any conceivable dangers carefully hypothesised. Of course, as we know, things don’t go according to plan; unexpected events occur that add further peril and distress to the situation. Not wanting to give too much away, I shall say no more. Except that when the first blood-curdling howl of circling wolves cuts through the chilling night air, your blood might run appropriately cold.

Green also successfully conveys a sense of how long the survivors are stranded for, and more importantly, a sense of their isolation, fluctuating despair and the freezing temperatures they’re experiencing. The eerie shots of them hanging, suspending in the all-consuming darkness are wonderfully realised. The use of sound is key here – whether it’s the frenzied roar of an oncoming blizzard, the crunch of breaking bones or the sparse, echoic emptiness of the snowy morning air – it helps create a chilling, evocative atmosphere.

Boasting cameos from Rileah Vanderbilt (Hatchet; Spiral) Kane Hodder (Jason from Friday the 13th parts VII - X), Frozen is an effective, gruelling and tightly coiled film that will keep viewers on the edge of their seats and maybe make them think twice about that skiing trip they were planning.

Frozen (Momentum Pictures) will be released in UK cinemas from 24th September 2010.

3 comments:

Aaron said...

I've heard mixed things about this one so far. It's either "it's decent and suspenseful" or "it's better than I expected" or "it's shit". I wonder how many of the people who call it shit went into it wanting to hate it just because it's directed by Adam Green, though? Unfortunately I'm one of the people who doesn't care for Adam Green's movies, but with the good amount of praise that this one's been getting, along with your mostly positive review, I think I might check this one out and keep an open mind.

James said...

I've still to see Spiral and Hatchet, but I like the look of them - especially Hatchet. I really liked this - good fun and I was totally sucked in. So some people would dismiss this because it is an Adam Green film? How come? Has he some bad rep I'm unaware of?

Aaron said...

I think the venom from people has to do with HATCHET. Adam Green, from what I hear, is a very cool and down to earth guy and, most importantly, a horror fan. But I personally fall into the category of people who think HATCHET is a highly overrated film and I feel the same way about him as a director. I can't speak for everyone else out there, but I honestly don't see why people like his films so much. HATCHET, to me, is average at best.

So yeah, there are people who would dismiss this just because it's an Adam Green film. It's not so much because of who he is as a person or because everyone wants to hate on him for his popularity, but rather people wanting to see him prove himself as a director. I guess? I dunno. That's just my opinion.