Frozen (2010)

As I sat shivering in my apartment, wrapped in blanket and straining to hear the telltale hiss of steam flowing through the radiator, I was reminded of a friend’s thoughts on one of the few drawbacks of October. It’s the month of the year when the weather gets cold enough that New York City apartments require heat, but it’s also the last month building owners can get away with not providing it.  But that’s not October’s fault, it’s my cheap ass landlord’s.

Given the climate, what better movie could I select than Frozen? I was pretty hard on director Adam Green for Hatchet II, so I thought it only fair to take a look at his stripped down suspense thriller and see what he could do when not focusing exclusively on ever more brutal ways to rend flesh on screen. The results were…chilling. See what I did there?

The story: Pretty straightforward set-up here, and one that fans of the excellent Open Water will recognize immediately. Dan, Joe and Dan’s girlfriend, Parker, are getting away from their college lives for a day on the ski slopes. Because Parker is an awful snowboarder, the two buds haven’t gotten many runs in when the mountain starts to shut down for the night. They beg the chairlift operator to let them take one last ride, which he reluctantly allows. But that operator is called away and his imprecise instructions to his replacement result rather plausibly in the three being left stranded on the lift some 30 feet in the air when the lights go out and the mountain staff goes home. The resort won’t reopen for five days so now, in sub-freezing temperatures, the kids are faced with almost certain death unless they figure out a way down.

"If we unexpectedly face a life-or-death situation, I'm blaming it on your girlfriend's stupid helmet."

Biggest letdown: If there’s one thing that almost knocked this movie down to two cones for quality it’s the relentless, jarring score. There’s just way too much music going on, which often destroys the sense of desperate isolation. I can’t stand when a director doesn’t trust himself, his actors or his audience enough to recognize that a particular scene is poignant, worrisome or hopeful. I found myself hoping the string section would get the fuck up and go for help just so I could get a break.

"I knew we should have tipped the lift guy better."

Why you should watch: They’re stranded and fully aware of the reality of their situation within the first half hour so naturally I expected a lot of asinine conversation and non-events would fill the remaining hour. Yet I was pleasantly surprised as the pace remained steadily manic throughout, with the exception of some drawn out reminiscing the morning after the first freezing night. There are a few unfortunate choices thrown in that overcomplicate things. At one point, in addition to their already dire situation, the bolts attaching the chair to the cable begin to give way. While that does occasionally happen it seemed excessive given what had already taken place. There are more unnecessary additions I won’t go into because it would be giving away some central plot points. Nevertheless, Frozen resonated with me far more profoundly than Open Water. Maybe it’s because I’ve been on a chairlift on a cold night but never gone scuba diving, but I think it has more to do with the active terror involved in a situation in which there are options that might lead to rescue, but those options are incredibly dangerous and scary.

Got frostbite?

Memorable Moment: There are some great bits late in the movie that I won’t spoil, but one beat I really liked was when Dan considers jumping. The downward camera angles had me gripping my armrests with white knuckles. As he steels himself for the leap, instead of looking to his girlfriend for strength, he touchingly turns to his best friend, who had glumly spent the entire day convinced he was the odd man out.

Choice quote: “I have to pee.”

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6 Responses to “Frozen (2010)”

  1. That movie sounds awesome! BTW, let’s go skiing.

    p.s. I suck at skiing.

  2. Heather Kaye Says:

    Yes, let’s ski!!

    Damn landlords.

  3. […] Frozen – 99 bottles of beer on the wall… […]

  4. […] Frozen – 99 bottles of beer on the wall… […]

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