Monday, February 08, 2010

Frozen (Review)


Frozen (2010)

Directed by Adam Green

I'm not going to lie. I got caught up in the hype for Adam Green's new movie Frozen. I absolutely loved Hatchet, dug Spiral and have enjoyed all the ArieScope shorts (including some awesome Halloween themed shorts). So suffice it to say, I am a big fan of Green and his work.

So my bias had me giving this movie 4 spinkicks even before I saw it. But I realized I needed to review this flick with some sort of objectivity and so as I watched, that 4 spinkicks would be modified as the flick went along.

OK, so with my prejudice out of the way, what did I think of Frozen?

I absolutely loved the premise of what would you do if you were trapped on a ski lift and there was no hope of rescue. I had a few coworkers watch the trailer and we all came up with theories. Some of them would sit and wait for help, others would go all MacGyver and work out a way to get down.

The movie shows some of these theories play out and a few others that seem quite preposterous. Like the movie its ultimately compared to, Open Water (a movie I also thought was average at best) the best part of the movie is not seeing the suffering or the panic on the faces of our would be survivors, it's coming up with ways we think we could survive the same ordeal.

It's a mixed bag of nuts for me. I liked the premise, the escape attempts and *gasp* even the characters. What I didn't like were the other obstacles that nature threw their way that seemed outright ridiculous.

So for this review (as I try to be non spoiler-ish), I've come up with my own rules of how to survive being on a ski lift without the hope of rescue.

Boring Plot-O-Matic

Three skiers are stranded on a chairlift and forced to make life-or-death choices that prove more perilous than staying put and freezing to death.

Awesome Review-O-Matic

How to Survive Being Stuck on A Ski Lift

1.) Have your cell phone at all times (and make sure it's got coverage at the ski resort!)

Sure you don't want to break your phone while snowboarding or skiing but it sure would be a good idea when your stuck on a ski lift. Hell, even if it doesn't work you can play MindSweeper while you wait to die.

2.) Have interesting stories to talk about while waiting for that eventual, slow painful death

So if you've been stuck in a winter storm, our main characters are as follows:
  • Dan (college X-Gamer who plays Rational Guy)
  • Parker (his GF who plays Panic Girl)
  • Lynch (Dan's BFF who plays Hero Guy)
The one thing about Frozen is the characters feel real. None of them seem like hipster douchebags who you want to die. I actually felt sympathy and was pulling for all of them to survive (especially Lynch who is the stereotypical stoner but comes out instead as a dude you wanna have a beer with)

Adam Green made Frozen quick and probably in budget but he has pretty much one setting for 80% of the movie. 3 people on a ski lift. So how in the world do you get people to tolerate such a thing for an hour or so?

You really need them to talk about themselves and tell stories that are interesting to the audience. And Lynch does this well (he talks about meeting Dan, awesome cereals, his lost love and celebrities he would do). The others, Parker and Dan are in relationship mode and console each other. But Lynch makes all the difference as he's the Shaun White guy with the funny one liners.

One scene that had me squirming was the eventual death of one of the 3. Two characters only looked at each other as a slaughter occurred. Very good Adam Green stuff on this. Kudos.

3.) Bring various objects that can be MacGyver-ed into a device that can be made into something that can aide in your escape (and also gum)

So our 3 X-gamers don't have ski lift tix but fandangle their way via the ski lift operator for one last run. But circumstances work out perfectly, that this dude and dudes "forget" about them (they are probably gonna be charged with manslaughter at the end of the day)

But in the meantime, our group of 3 are hungry, they are having urination issues and are cold as fuck. Night is approaching and its time to think of ways of escaping these freezer box torture. If they had brought a hanger, a bungee cord, a Phillips head screwdriver and some gum, they could have easily created a device to get them down.

So how does one get down from a ski lift?

Here are some of my outrageous theories (some of them are even plausible!)
  • Use one of the ski poles to slide down on the wire where the lifts are attached
  • Use your clothing and various snow equipment to make a rope and lower yourself down
  • Jump to a nearby tree to break your fall
  • Use the cushion your sitting on and jump off with that to break your fall
Of course the movie plays out the worst of the ideas and that's where it shines. Seeing the gruesomeness and consequences of these escape attempts even got me, the jaded viewer, a little squeamish. I winced quite a few times which goes to show you how the movie is effective in this way.

The movie is very realistic in what happens when you try to do the impossible. Nobody here is going to the Winter Olympics and they are all amateurs in survival. I really liked this about Frozen and it doesn't skim on the gore factor. You're gonna get hurt and it's going to hurt like fuckin crazy.

4.) Bring some Chapstick and a portable heater

So the effects of a prolonged cold are going to wreak havoc on the human body. Frostbite is the main adversary in the battle vs the winter. Frozen does do a great job of illustrating the evolution of it on the human body (and for us gorehounds, more so gratuitously).

5.) Bring Samurai Swords, a flamethrower and a high powered assault rifle (to scare any woodland creatures away)

The movie was at a high 3 spinkicks for me until we got some nature vs man moments inserted into the flick.

**!!!!!!SPOILERS!!!!!** (sorry can't help it)

The wolves were a bit overkill on here. I can believe sharks in Open Water but wolves at a ski resort? Sure, that could happen but where are the wolves when the ski resort is opened? I'm no Animal Planet expert but these wolves are like an LA street gang. I mean our crew is only in their territory a short time and the wolves are performing drive by mauls.

This is indeed the WTF moment of the film and for me it's not a very good Big Bad and destroys the realisticness of the movie. The mega cold, blizzard conditions, frostbite and human error are all things that COULD happen but the wolves were overkill in my opinion.

Frozen ends a little differently than I would have wanted it to and for that another spinkick gets knocked down. Sure we've gotten a few survivor stories (many unbelievable from the Haiti earthquake) but more so, it's more probable that there are more sad endings than happy.

All in all Frozen is a slightly above average film that delivers the goods and the reactions of what people would do if the worst case scenario happened to them. I applaud Adam Green for taking a very obvious question and extending it to a movie that has some solid suspense, some shiverish moments and ample amounts of gore.

Frozen is a survival movie where nature attacks from all sides. But its our will to survive that usually ends in our downfall. Go see it and decide what you would do if that were you up on the ski lift is sub zero temperatures. Because what you think might work, doesn't.

The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis

Indie Horror has to be supported so if Frozen is playing in your neighborhood, please go see it. Here is the link to the cities it's playing at. Right now, the movie is got people leaning in the middle. Some absolutely love the movie, others thought it was dribble.

I fall on neither extreme side. I loved some parts of it and others I felt were too goofy and unrealistic. But that won't stop me from telling you to see Frozen to see why everybody has such a diverse opinion about it.

Now I'm going to make me some hot chocolate. It's cold outside.


Check out the trailer below.


    The "WTF" moment didn't bother me. With the scent of blood in the air, and them being stranded like a wounded animal, I think it makes sense. Plus, they don't show up at resorts normally because there are lots of people around, but that wasn't the case here.


    It did seem a bit implausable that the moment a highly populated ski trail is deserted a massive back of wolves descend on the mountain, but overall I loved the other issues and how the characters dealt with them, so I'm giving it a pass.

  3. Sounds interesting, I can't wait to see it.

  4. Great review! I love the breakdown of the different theories, haha!

    So, about the wolves...
    I think with humanity infringing upon nature and taking over more and more forests, it's not terribly farfetched for wolves to be lurking around waiting for resort patron to leave so they can scavenge for scraps. This is what the once great hunters of our woods have been reduced to in a lot of areas.

    The only thing that's a little hard to swallow is the immediacy in which they attacked. A wolf can/would wait for days to make sure prey (especially humans that can fight back) would be in the right weakened state. I think the fact that Dan was injured and the smell of blood could provoke their instincts to a frenzy. However, with the fully healthy Lynch, I'm not so sure, unless they just couldn't get enough of that yummy human flesh and blood.

    Re-reading some Jack London gave me a little perspective on this, not to mention growing up in the woods myself.

    Good criticism, though. Interesting point to discuss.

  5. I am a sucker for minimalist Horror productions like this one, so I will definitely be checking it out someday, but I probably wont be able to make it to the limited releases

  6. You obviously didn't understand the message at all. The message is 'women will ruin your life to death'