Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Movie Review: Frozen

Frozen ***
Directed By:
Adam Green.
Written By: Adam Green.
Starring: Emma Bell (Parker O'Neil), Shawn Ashmore (Joe Lynch), Kevin Zegers (Dan Walker).

Frozen is proof that sometimes low budget horror movies can be much more terrifying than their big budget counterparts. When you have no money, you have to be original in how you make your movie. Frozen is a movie that takes a real life situation and makes it terrifying - not because of any monsters, ghosts or murderers, but because of the weather conditions they face. This is an intense movie almost from beginning to end.

The movie is about a ski weekend for three friends. Lynch (Shawn Ashmore) and Dan (Kevin Zegers) have been friends since the first grade. Now in college they are still best friends, but there is some tension between them because Dan is spending more and more time with his girlfriend Parker (Emma Bell). She has even horned in on this ski weekend, which is a tradition shared normally just between the two best friends. But they are having fun anyway, but when the ski hill has to close a little early, they are disappointed. They talk the chair lift operator into letting them go up one last time, even though he is supposed to be closed. Then he gets called away, and because of miscommunication, they guy who comes in thinks the lift is deserted, and shuts it down. The three friends at first think its just a mistake, or a power outage, because as the minutes turn into an hour, an hour into two and they see no one, they know they are stuck high above the ground, with no hope of getting down. If it was just a case of waiting until morning, they may have been okay. But it is Sunday night, and the hill isn’t open again until the following Friday. If they have to survive a week up there, they are not going to make it.

We know what is going to happen. Sooner or later, one of the three of them are going to jump. It is a long way down and the ground is hard. We know the drop is going to come though, and we know when it does it will up the ante a little bit more. It really is at the moment when one of the characters decides to jump – and I will not reveal which one it is – that the movie really takes off into high gear. The characters, and us in the audience, can no longer pretend that this is just a silly mistake that will corrected, but really a matter of life and death.

Written and directed by Adam Green, Frozen is a wonderfully intense horror movie because it is something we can relate to. I have never been downhill skiing – and after watching this movie, I doubt I ever will – but taking the chair lift is such a mundane experience, and one we all assume is fail safe. That is precisely what makes the movie work as well as it does.

Green does an excellent job establishing the three characters and their relationship to each other in the early stages of the film, so when they get stranded up there, we truly do care what happens to them. This is a movie without any special effects, but is has its share of gross out moments – mostly accomplished using make-up, and creative shot selections, so we think we see more than we actually do. Frozen is a perfect example of how to make a movie for almost no money, and still make it scary. It reminded me of the underrated hit, Open Water, a few years back where a couple was left in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by sharks. That was another movie where no special effects were used, and yet it was terrifying, as the mounting doom just grew. Watching the movie the same weekend as the recent The Wolf Man, which had a huge budget, and showed us everything, Frozen is a study in contrasts. In this case, the low budget movie wins by a mile.

No comments:

Post a Comment