“Okay then, Lynch, what is the worst way to die?”
Frozen, not the one with the talking snowman, gets off to a slow start and like many horror films, opens with a scene that appears to be so normal, too normal, for real life. Frozen starts with a trio of college students spending a day on the slopes, skiing and snowboarding the stresses of school away and enjoying their Sunday. This opening sequence drags on just a bit too long and the mediocre acting makes it a drag but the apprehension that something is going to happen holds the audience.
The film finds it’s footing about 20 minutes in, at the end of the ski day when Joe, Dan and girlfriend Parker wish to take one more run down, even though the ski lift is closed. They convince the operator to let them have one more go, but midway through the ride up, the ski lift shuts down, the lights turn off and it doesn’t take long for them to realize that they are stuck on a ski lift, at a ski resort that will not open it’s slopes again until the following weekend. As more time passes, the fear sinks into even Joe, who was full of jokes just a few hours previous, and the group realizes it’s time to take action.
Dan decides that he will jump; the snow will cushion his fall and once he reaches the ground getting down the slope to find help will be a simple task. This seems to be the obvious route of action and at this point I was thinking I would probably do the same thing. But Dan’s fall ends in two broken legs, the bones sticking straight up; horrifyingly powerful visual. The horrors only get worse when wolves start to slowly appear until a pack encircles the paralyzed Dan, and Joe and Parker watch from above as their helpless companion is eaten alive. The nightmare continues with one failed attempt to get to the ground after another until ultimately, only one of the skiers is left.
Shot on a tight budget with minimal special effects Frozen is a simple film but writer and director Adam Green, whose previous work includes other low-budget horror flicks, worked with what he had to craft a chilling, standout hit. It is written so well; it relies heavily on the dialogue and interactions of the three characters on the ski lift to tell the story. There are several heart to heart, all revealing and well written conversations that bring audiences even closer to the characters. Green also uses the tool of foreshadowing which adds a unique and interesting touch-once when the ski lift stops for a minute in the middle of the day but starts right back up again and another time when Parker mentions something about remembering watching 9/11 footage that showed people jumping from the building, a hint of what Dan does just a few minutes later.
It’s desperate and all too real situation make Frozen a hard film to watch. There aren’t any supernatural elements nor evil antagonists, yet it’s still terrifying. The premise isn’t far fetched and the constant voice in your head saying ‘what would I do’ then realizing that there isn’t anything else you could do in that situation is what makes it so scary. A great horror film is one that by forcing audiences to imagine themselves in the situation presented achieve an even higher level of fear, which is just what Frozen succeeds in doing. More importantly however, Frozen is a vital reminder of what a powerful beast nature can be and how, in the end, the elements are far more frightening than any alien, monster or psycho filmmakers can dream up.