Review: Frozen

Frozen

While Adam Green is arriving a bit late to the party of the ‘foolish young suburbanites have no damn respect for the wilderness‘ subgenre, trail-blazed with 1999s The Blair Witch Project and blossomed a couple years after with Open Water, The Descent and The Ruins (I supposed to a higher brow audience Grizzly Man and Into The Wild), there is no doubt that he makes the most of his kick at the can. Thoroughly milking the concept of three friends stranded very high up on a ski lift after the resort has closed for the week(!) he creates a sense of believability in the situation, a lot of tension and moments of wince-inducing horror. Using a fair bit of restraint – something that was lacking in the fanboy homage, Hatchet, and uneven psycho-drama, Spiral – along with location shooting, and very, very convincing wolves, Green can be proud that there will be a lot of nervous people on chair-lifts if they stutter or shake or stop, particularly during a lonely night ski.

The set up in Frozen is frighteningly plausible. Three friends head on up to the ski hill without telling anyone, why would they, it is only a few runs down the hill. Too cheap to buy a lift ticket, they bribe the lift-operator to shuttle them up during the day, and one final edge-of-quitting-time run. A confusion amongst the distracted staff (its close to beer-o’clock) is set-up and executed with veracity. That leaves the trio high and cold with a storm blowing in a few prospects of being discovered in their grim predicament. The actors, in particularly Shawn Ashmore (probably best known as Iceman in the X-Men movies, but also appears in the similar in tone The Ruins), pull their thinly sketched characters into believable human beings as they are faced with increasingly tough choices. And when things do not go according to plan, expect to cringe. The gore elements are (wisely) not designed to pander to an audience hungry for the leads demise, but rather to underscore both the tension of the situation and empathy for the leads. Kudos to that. And then there is the wolves. Give the lupine-wrangler a bonus, the wolf-footage is hair-raising. My only gripe with the film is that these kids do not have the common sense to zip up their coats all the way in the face of deep freeze and an incoming storm. I am sure the director wanted to actually see the actors faces for the duration of the movie (to show off the excellent frostbite make-up), but come on, take mom’s advice when you are on the verge of freezing to death. I also could have done without the soundtrack; Frozen gets in and out quick, a lack of musical accompaniment may have upped the tension. A minor complaint, but when the film is firing so well in the tension department, why not crank it up a little further?

Besides being solid entertainment, Frozen is a great ski-safety PSA. Tell someone you are going into the wilderness, respect the fact that if there is no pavement or floodlights, it’s a jungle out there. Oh, and take mom’s advice: Next time bring a flare gun.

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Marina Antunes
Guest

This one's high on my watch list. Not only because of Ashmore, who I like, but also Canuck Kevin Zegers who continually impresses me with his appearances.

I think The Ruins was largely overlooked because it looked like a teen horror derivative but it's worth checking out.

Marina Antunes
Guest

That's awesome!

Jonathan
Admin

I was happy to find out that Adam Green had another movie coming out and it's received some positive reviews so far, for his creation of an intense movie in the most unlikely of ways. I thought Hatchet was a fun little homage to the 80s slasher flick too, especially considering it was such a low-budget debut, and I'm looking forward to the sequel.

I'm glad that I saved some of the pages from the old Cinema Fusion page… I just dug up this interview I had with Green back in '06. Pretty boring questions that I asked, but he seemed like a genuinely nice guy.

JB: As you’ve noted before, the horror genre simply isn’t where it used to be anymore. In your opinion, why did these great slasher flicks fade away and how did they transform into the shock-value/loud noises sort of “scares” that they provide now?

Adam Green: In my opinion, we’ve lost the mythology that built the great anti-hero villains of the past. When I was a kid I went to see slasher movies because I WANTED to see the killer and what he would do next. It was always so interesting to me to hear how they were created and how with each film, a new piece of information about them was unlocked. As a fan you could dork out and debate the rules and mythology of each character until you were blue in the face. Those were FUN movies. These days its all about remakes so that a studio can cash in or campaigns designed to make the films look as depraved as possible in the ads. Did you ever play that game as a kid where you sat there with your friends and just tried to say the grossest, nastiest things you could and then you’d all laugh? That’s horror today. Only we’re not laughing. Hey, dont get me wrong – I’ve tremendously enjoyed a good portion of today’s horror films – but as a fan I’d like to see us mix it up a bit and go back to the basics. Lets bring back the fun. Watch it and enjoy yourself while your girlfriend squirms. Today’s flicks are made to disturb you. Mine is made to get you laid. And for christ sakes, it doesnt hurt to have a horror movie actually contain some entertainment value and be a well acted, fun movie on top of the gore and violence.

JB: You’ve said how much you enjoyed Slither, but other than that, what was the last great horror movie to hit theatres?

AG: I thought SHAUN OF THE DEAD was genius and I love the minds behind the SAW series.

JB: You have an amazing cast for this film. What was it like to work with these stars that are so huge in the horror world?

AG: It was a dream come true. On night two of shooting, I'm standing between Robert Englund and Kane Hodder while they discuss the Victor Crowley make-up job with John Buechlerand. I’m thinking, who the hell am I??? I am so lucky and honored that they responded to my script and the spirit of what I was trying to do. I’m just a fan whos made the movie I wanted to see.

JB: I read recently that you are looking to direct a comedy following this. Any plans for another take on the horror genre anytime soon?

AG: I actually just completed a drama (SPIRAL) and just signed my deal for my next movie which I will be announcing publicly in the coming weeks. Its a romantic comedy. After that, I plan to jump right back into horror as quickly as possible. Horror is my first love, but its not all I do. I mean, I love Cocoa Pebbles – but every now and then you gotta switch it up with some Lucky Charms. Ultimately, I’d like to be able to pick my films and not have them pick me. So it was important for me to write and find projects that appeal to my different sensibilities. Its been very hard (I directed TWO films last year with HATCHET and SPIRAL) but I think its worth the emotional and physical toll it is taking on me.

JB: Now, the boring question, but one everyone is dying for the answer to: What is your favorite horror movie and why?

AG: Well, THE EXORCIST was the only one that ever really scared me, but I love movies like HALLOWEEN and FRIDAY THE 13th because I just loved the anti-heros like Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees so much. Its very hard to narrow it down. But oddly enough the one I probably couldn’t live without is ITS THE GREAT PUMPKIN CHARLIE BROWN. Not a horror movie – but the pure spirit of Halloween and something so special to me that it is literally an EVENT when I watch it each year.