Running Time: 93 minutes
Starring: Emma Bell, Shawn Ashmore, Kevin Zegers
Directed By: Adam Green
Rating: 4 out of 10
Three young adults are stranded on a ski chairlift and must make some hard decisions if they are going to survive the ordeal.
Having a movie take place in only one specific location is one of the hardest ideas to make work. There are so many factors to try and pull off in a film with a singular locale, that it often gets led astray. This film fell for so many of the pratfalls that similar films before it have fallen victim to. What I am trying to say is these types of films usually get boring quickly, and also stretch the plot to make things exciting. Frozen is the story of three young adults as they enjoy a day of skiing and snowboarding. What should have been one last exciting run turns into a nightmare as they are left stranded on a chairlift high above the ground.
So you can see there is not much scenery and really not many choices for the trio to make to try and survive their dilemma. They either have to jump, starve to death, freeze to death, or wait for help and that’s it. Of course this film would be boring if those were the only hardships so they add some very persistent wildlife to add to the terror (and kill off a lot of realism in doing so.) As the film starts the viewer is treated to some background banality of the three college kids. Their conversations are pointless and their internal bickering is wearisome. If it wasn’t so against my nature I would simply tell you to fast forward to them stranded on the chairlift. How they get stuck on the chairlift is absurd both in how it happens and the fact the ski resort closes for an entire week in what looks like peak season. The film sees the three friends sitting there in the dark as the weather dips and no help seems to be coming. What I liked is the way it broke down their psyches. The three of them go from annoyance, to worry, to outright panic in such a believable way that the viewer is interested in their plight. As the weather plummets and the night deepens the viewer is treated to some very studio manufactured sounding wind and invisible breaths in supposed sub zero weather. Sometimes the camerawork is superb making you feel like you are trapped with them. Other times it insults you by overdoing the camera angles making you understand it is a long drop if any of them were to jump. Where the film fails the most is in its inability to scare the viewer even when it is a pretty trippy scenario to find yourself in.
The acting is what could have saved the film if it was better than what was presented. The three friends named Parker, Joe, and Dan have believable dialogue while sitting on the chair lift but their performances are on the poor side. Parker is played by Emma Bell and while her character goes through some of the harsher punishment on the lift I hated her performance. It is like she was channeling Kiefer Sutherland’s performance from Dark City (sorry for the obscure reference). Her forced emotional scenes combined with her shrill delivery were terrible. Joe played by Shawn Ashmore and Dan played by Kevin Zegers were barely passable but do enough with the roles to not detract. Who knows, with better performances this film might have worked. I also found it funny that Ashmore aka Iceman might freeze to death in this film (Had to make an X-Men reference sorry.)
The viewer is treated with some heart stopping moments as the trio is forced to decide on some life or death decisions on how to get down. While I might not have been as frightened as I would have liked I did find myself wondering how I would have gotten down which is a cool aspect to the film. The conversations of life and death are random but very believable in this crazy situation. As the weather continues to hammer them their fighting seems very genuine and not staged. As the film makes its way to its end it just didn’t do enough right to make it work. The effects of the weather and dialogue are a positive but the acting and the lack of frights is a negative. Not the worst thriller I have seen but it needed something more than what it offered. When I am indifferent to if the three of them live then the film has failed.
Director and writer Adam Green does and okay job with this film. He has some interesting shot scenes and his dialogue was sound after the kids are stranded. There are some great scenes as the trio deals with the frigid weather and their rising stress. The casting though was off and the viewer never really had any sense of panic during the entire film. I would give this movie a pass on the directing as I understood his vision and it had some decent moments.
I cannot recommend this film as skiing maybe a thrilling sport to do it is not as thrilling to watch.
T Factor + If you like films that are all shot in one location then this could score higher on the rating scale.
T Factor – If you like your thrillers to be more nerve wracking then this could score lower on the rating scale.
If you liked this film reel recommendations: Open Water, Phone Booth