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February 17, 2011

Movie Review: Adam Green's Frozen (2010)

The man behind the hideous face of new-school American horror has stepped far from the world of deformed mongoloid-maniacs into the much more realistic and terrifying world of nature vs. human-kind horror. Adam Green, director of Hatchet and its highly anticipated sequel, Hatcher II, has really stepped up his game and reached frighteningly unimaginable heights—quite literally. Although Frozen is a movie very much like Jaws in a sense of man fighting to survive against the wrath of nature, the gags and campiness are blatantly absent. This winter vacation gone horribly awry will crawl up your spine like a brisk snowy chill and sting your skin like frostbite.

Buy Frozen on Blu-ray!

A friend of mine who organizes monthly screenings at an awesome little independent theatre in Calgary, Alberta (Canada) showed this last year around the time that it was making theatrical rounds at festivals across North America. I wasn’t able to catch it, and sadly it faded away in my mind along with the countless other DVD titles that I just had to see and try to remember until I could get my hands on a copy. I finally got around to seeing what has been one of the best movies that I’ve seen in the past couple years… and one that actually scared the hell out of me.

Dan, his girlfriend and his best buddy head to the Mount Holliston ski resort for the weekend to relax away from school and the everyday stresses of life. Parker (the girlfriend) is a new installment in Dan’s life and Lynch (the best buddy) isn’t very happy that she’s tagging along on their “bro date”. After spending a day on the bunny hill watching Parker fall on her ass, the guys are dying to get a few good runs down the mountain in before the resort closes for the week. Dan convinces Parker to flirt with the ski lift guy in order to persuade him to let them take the lift up the mountain for one last run. A few mindless decisions leave the trio trapped on the lift some-hundred feet in the air. As the resort lights go out and there isn’t a single person in site, they realize that not only are they stuck there for the night—but for the whole week, as the resort is only open on weekends and it just so happens to be a Sunday evening.

The first 60 minutes, Green’s script hits the slopes full-force. The characters and their personal conflicts are introduced, and we get an idea of how close Dan and Lynch are as friends…which adds to the overwhelming emotional strain that the movie will—no doubt—plague viewers with by the end. Green took an interesting approach to plot peaks that is rarely found in horror films. The decisions and actions of each of the three main characters lead up to their own individual climax. They’re all dealing with their own inner dilemma, but they are forced to work together to try and come up with solutions, while—at the same time—making life or death decisions that will primarily impact themselves as individuals. The audience witnesses the vicious consequences of making such decisions too quickly, and with too little consideration.

While there are a few substantially climactic moments in Frozen, there are also a few scenes that seem to drag on much too long and waste a significant amount of the running time. Between peak points, intense emotional outbursts and chattering teeth, there are a few brief periods where nothing happens and none of the characters are talking… which is annoying when you’re really engaged in the movie otherwise. But I guess there’s really only so much that could be happening on a ski lift some-hundred feet in the air in frigid temperatures. Green really makes the most of such a confined concept. He utilizes his ability to make something so restrictive of possibilities work on the screen in pretty well every aspect of the movie.

In terms of gore and visual horror, a little goes a long way in Frozen. For the most part, the scares come as a by-product of the extreme tension levels that Green and the cast pull of. To avoid providing any spoilers, I will say that I can count the number of gory details on one hand. There is one very disturbing scene in particular that Green strictly uses audio elements to produce the same climactic impact that incredibly bloody visuals usually have on viewers. You can close your eyes and still be scared shitless!

As the movie progresses, the feeling of an inevitable, bleak fate lurking close behind gets harder and harder to shake. But the trauma that the characters inflict upon themselves in order to try to survive leaves a sense of hopefulness that lasts until the bitter end. Frostbite and starvation are the very least of the survivors' worries in this worst-case scenario, as the days creep forward and the cold air stiffens around them. They literally do everything they possibly can to make it out alive. I strongly suggest watching the movie to unveil the fate of these terribly unfortunate three.

If you’re into nature vs. human-kind horror flicks with gut-punch impact, take it upon yourself to run out and grab a copy of Adam Green’s Frozen.

(And stay tuned for a review of Hatchet II)

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