Saturday, February 13, 2010

Frozen (2010)

I’ve never been a fan of the snow. In all my life I’ve probably been in it just a handful of times. I’ve never been skiing (unless you count that time when I was really young and my parents took me to the Swiss Alps), never been snowboarding and have no desire to do either. Though I live just a few hours from the mountains I’ve never been and have no plans to go. Snow is cold and wet, whereas I would much rather be warm and dry! I can appreciate the majestic snow-capped mountains, but always at a distance, thank you very much! This rant is brought to you by Adam Green’s Frozen, a film that furthers my belief that I should stay as far away from snow as possible!

Frozen is about friends Lynch (Shawn Ashmore) and Walker (Kevin Zegers) and Walker’s girlfriend Parker (Emma Bell) who head up to a ski resort one Sunday. Seeing as they don’t have enough money to pay full price for lift tickets, they bribe a ski lift operator to let them go up the mountain. They spend most of the day on the bunny slopes because it is Parker’s first time snowboarding, which irritates Lynch since the trip is traditionally bros only. As nightfall nears, the trio decides to go on one last decent run, even though the lifts are closing due to a blizzard coming in. The same lift operator grudgingly lets them go up one last time, but because of a miscommunication another lift operator shuts everything down while the trio is stuck halfway up the mountain. When they realize they have been left behind and no one is coming to rescue them, the three friends must go to tremendous lengths to survive the elements…because the resort won’t open back up for another five days.

This film must be given props solely for the fact that it was shot practically – meaning that this wasn’t shot on a studio set but was actually shot in freezing cold temperatures on an actual ski lift that was 50 feet in the air. If you have heard any of director/writer Adam Green’s terrifying tales of the production, you know that this in of itself was a horrifying ordeal! They shot through real blizzards, used real wolves and were really suspended five stories above the ground! For this, both cast and crew are to be applauded, especially since the film looks so great. Green used a cherry-picker type crane to get many amazing shots and luckily the film isn’t just one static shot of the actors in the lift. Instead, it moves around them and keeps things visually interesting.

Also, I know people are bitching about what they would do if stuck in a ski lift (“Dude, why don’t they just jump? It can’t be that high.” or “Why don’t they MacGuyver themselves out of the situation by sliding down the lift cable?”), but in actuality all of these possibilities are explored by the stranded friends and the results are pretty grim. Every little detail is explained so the story becomes very realistic…and therefore very scary. The film is incredibly tense, uncomfortable to watch and features several cringe-worthy scenes (which I won’t spoil here). The three kids are fighters, and do what they can to survive, but with limited options, plummeting temperatures and hungry wolves circling them, they can only do so much to stay alive.

Speaking of the characters, you really get to feel like you know them (perhaps a little too well) and can easily empathize with them. However, I will say that the female character of Parker came off a little too whiny for my liking. I would have liked to see her fight a little more and cry/scream a little less. Despite that, I felt the actors gave amazing performances (and it probably helped that they were actually freezing their asses off and experiencing a lot of what their characters were during the shoot). The bromance between Walker and Lynch was believable, and Walker and Parker were a cute couple. These weren’t the stupid stock characters you’d encounter in some horror films that you want to see die – they were ordinary, run-of-the-mill good kids who found themselves in a horrifying ordeal that you hoped they found a way out of. Unfortunately, they don’t all make it out alive…but the film definitely kept you on your toes guessing who will live and who doesn’t.

Besides Green’s simple-yet-effective story and well-rounded characters, I also enjoyed the humor he infused into the film. At the beginning of the film it is welcome, but he even employs it during some of the more tense scenes. Most of the time the humor worked, but other times it killed the tension and took you out of the moment. There were also some fun cameos throughout the movie – for example, one quick scene features Green himself and buddy Joe Lynch (director of Wrong Turn 2). Kane Hodder (who was stunt coordinator on the film) even makes an appearance as a snow truck driver and Green’s own fiancé, Rileah Vanderbilt, plays a potential love interest of Lynch. Horror fans will notice that even the characters are named after Green’s friends in the horror community. These are cute little perks that I and other horror fans definitely enjoyed!

However, after all that gushing about Frozen, I must admit it has its flaws and I didn’t enjoy it 100%. After the first half of the film, it started to drag a little bit and I wished the characters would start to actually DO something about their predicament rather than trade stories like they were Grandpa from The Simpsons. The film starts to drag a little bit and loses steam, not to mention a few implausible events that just didn’t ring true. After all the realism of the first half of the film, I was disappointed that I had to keep suspending my disbelief more and more as the film neared its end. This isn’t to say that it’s a bad film by any means, but just that towards the end it didn’t grab me as much as it should have.

I still left the theater chilled, though, and extremely grateful for the heater in my car! Frozen might not be perfect, but it was definitely realistic (for the most part) and to all the naysayers wagging their tongues about how such-and-such isn’t possible or so-and-so should have done this – well, I dare them to actually go see the film (or hey, better yet, climb into an actual ski lift during winter and get stuck up there themselves for a few days) before making such remarks. I, for one, know I’ll never again look at a ski lift without trepidation!

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