(2010)3.5Jeremy WheelerFor a film about three people stranded on a ski lift in ice-cold weather with little hope for survival, Adam Green's Frozen is not without its charm. The picture milks the dire situation for all its horrific worth, even if it stumbles a bit due to the high-concept trappings. Thankfully the great outweighs the few plodding moments, as a new entry in the "danger in everyday places" genre steps up to scare anyone who's ever put their trust in a tiny seat suspended by razor-sharp cables, with nothing but open air underneath them.
Before the suspense begins, the dramatics are already set up thanks to a third-wheel situation between two old buddies, Joe (Shawn Ashmore) and Dan (Kevin Zegers), and Dan's girlfriend, Parker (Emma Bell). Tensions rise after Dan brings her on a ski trip that he and Joe had been going on since they were kids. The fact that Parker's a novice skier and slows them down doesn't help things either. Things get worse once they head out for a night ski just as the resort is about to close for a few days. Out of nowhere, the chair stops with all of them on it and the lights go out. Hundreds of feet off the ground, the three are faced with a rapidly dropping temperature and insurmountable odds that they won't survive the night, never mind a few days.
To make a flick like this work, it's only to be expected that there will be some padding to fill up its 94-minute running time. To the writer/director's credit, Green manages to make those exposition-heavy sections of the running time as painless as possible. Even with those missteps, the harrowing experience is still worth the ride for adventurous audiences. They might wonder why the characters aren't bundled up more -- or trying out different ideas sooner -- but in a way, that's the fun of Frozen and the genre it's so heavily rooted in.
By stepping up the stakes and keeping viewers on their toes, Green can add competent survival dramatist to his resumé. The fact that he was able to pull off the trick of this movie without it being laughable, all the while packing in as much style as he does, spells great things for the filmmaker. It's doubtful that viewers will easily shake off this film after they've seen it, which, in and of itself, is a major feat for everyone involved. The movie is hopeless one second and thrilling the next, inevitably leading to even more bloodcurdling reveals sure to keep the audience just as frozen to their seats as the film's unfortunate protagonists. Bundle up for this one -- you'll need the extra layers.