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November 2010

Frozen

cast: Kevin Zegers, Emma Bell, and Shawn Ashmore

director: Adam Green

93 minutes (15) 2009
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Momentum DVD Region 2

RATING: 6/10
review by Gary McMahon

Frozen

I'm a sucker for a film with a tense, claustrophobic set-up featuring a bunch of people trapped somewhere unpleasant. In recent times I loved Open Water, and Black Water was possibly the best film I saw last year. The former had people stranded in the ocean treading water next to a boat they couldn't get aboard while sharks close in around them, and the latter had hapless folk stuck up a mangrove tree in an Australian swamp with a killer crocodile cruising the waters below...

Frozen is another variation on this trap-'em-and-terrorise-'em theme. Unlike the other two films I've mentioned, this one doesn't quite pull off what it sets out to do. The basic idea is a belter: three college kids on a skiing weekend get stuck up a ski lift. The ski resort has closed up for a week, and they are left there on the lift as the darkness descends, facing the stark choice of freezing to death or trying to escape the ski lift chair. So far, so tense...

I don't want to spoil the film for anyone, as the joy in something like this is watching it unfold, and hopefully feeling some sort of empathy towards the characters, which in turn provokes terror. I will say, though, that despite the set-up being clever and scary and reasonably credible, the whole thing starts to go downhill once the wolves arrive. I mean, what kind of ski resort has man-eating wolves running around to attack holidaymakers?

But my main problem with the film was the characters. If we're meant to spend approximately 90 minutes in the company of three people unable to even stand up let alone move, then those characters need to be interesting. Unfortunately, these three are possibly the dullest people ever to appear in a horror film. We have a featureless jock and his boring girlfriend, and a perennial bachelor with nothing to say for or about himself. These characters have no edges; they are one-dimensional. Even when bachelor-boy tells his story, and reveals why he never seems to have a long-term girlfriend, the psychology behind his behaviour is rather pathetic. He once went out with a girl who fancied someone else. That's it, the reason why he can never emotionally commit to a woman.

There's also a scene about 30 minutes in, when someone with broken legs is trying to grab something in the snow, which is so ineptly done that it made me laugh out loud. It looks like exactly what it is: a person with their lower extremities buried in the snow and a pair of comedy rubber legs attached to their midriff.

Although the second act sags considerably, the ending does perk up a bit and we are treated to a nicely melancholy ending, but nothing about the film really gels enough to make it more then merely watchable. It's a shame, too, because the basic idea is great. Unfortunately, the script and direction (both by Adam Green, the man behind the creaky old Hatchet franchise) are not enough to capitalise on that idea, and this viewer was left thinking 'so what?'



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