(Judge Dredd Megazine, Rebellion)
Director Adam Green previously made the outrageous slasher film Hatchet, whose style is in stark contrast to his new film Frozen, although both rely on real effects rather than digital fakery. This is an early review – Frozen isn’t due until September – but it deserves some advance publicity. I wasn’t sure about it at first, but the situation in the film has stayed with me. You may have seen Open Water, the drama a few years back about two divers stranded helplessly in the middle of the ocean after being accidentally abandoned by their tour group. Frozen does much the same, except that this time there are three people, stuck in mid-air on a chairlift halfway up a snowy mountain.
The college-age victims make up a soundly contrived triangle – it’s basically a guy, his girlfriend, and the guy’s resentful best-friend-from-kindergarten who’s never had a proper girlfriend of his own. The last of these three is the most familiar, being played by Shawn Ashmore from the X-Men films (where he was Iceman). The other actors are Kevin Zegers (the problem teen in Transamerica) and Emma Bell. The three trip out to a resort for a day of snowboarding, and make the mistake of taking the chairlift up for a last run. Thanks to a switch in the operators, the lift is shut off and everyone goes home for the night. Actually for the week, as the resort is only a dinky little part-time operation. The youngsters on the chair slowly twig how bad their situation is, as a snowstorm blows up the slope and there are ominous howls on the wind…
The set-up is plausible, the situation all-too imaginable, and I enjoyed the way that you’re caught between enjoying the audience-manipulations and empathising with the characters. I laughed at the first in-your-face gross-out moment, and many audiences will laugh, but after that it gets bleaker, with the survivors reduced to tearing emotional chunks out of each other to distract from the horrors awaiting them. At base, it’s the old “people stuck in the lift” scenario with added wolves and snow, and I was reminded of the ‘90s TV comedy Bottom, which had an episode with Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson stuck on the top of a ferris wheel. Judging by the sniffy American reviews that Frozen has received, it’s not for you if you hated the partying youngsters in films like Cloverfield. That’s a thought; maybe we should get a horror film with middle-aged Ivy League professors stuck on a chairlift or menaced by Godzilla, and see how that plays. Or have them menaced by a serial killer: Green is currently making Hatchet 2.
(c) 2018 Rebellion A/S. Reprinted with permission.