Frozen is a surprisingly effective thriller from director Adam Green, previously responsible for more goofy horror outings such as Hatchet .
The premise here is that three students on a ski-ing holiday try to fit in one last ride at the end of the day, and end up marooned on a ski-lift with no-one around. Right away you’ll have noticed a similarity with The Blair Witch Project, the success of which must have been playing on the mind of many low-budget film-makers. Green even invites further comparisons by making his trio an initially unloveable bunch, and by gradually invoking an atmosphere of hopelessness to force his characters to abandon their smugness and win the audience’s sympathy.
For those of you who run for the hills at the first mention of BWP, relax. While this is a low-budget movie, it manages to make a fair stab at glossy production values, has an excellent low-key score from Andy Garfield and has a relatively slick and conventional visual style courtesy of d.p. Will Barratt. The three leads are also a little more viewer-friendly, and both Bell and Ashmore have turned in impressive performances in major TV series (The Walking Dead and Fringe respectively).
What Frozen really has going for it, though, is the terrific central idea, which immediately has you asking what you would do in these circumstances, which is always a good sign in a horror thriller. I must admit to thinking of one possible solution long before the characters in the movie, then again I was sitting in a comfy chair with a large popcorn and not freezing my bits off 50 feet in the air.
Finally, Frozen doesn’t take any easy options or give the characters an easy way out; it’s one of the better examples of an emerging genre where you’re sure there’s no deus ex machina lurking round the corner (see also BWP or The Ruins, and avoid Hostel and the like). I’m not sure what it says that audiences go for this sort of thing, it’s probably a reaction to the glut of soft-centred romcoms dominating multiplexes or to the winking ironic approach to horror.
Frozen is not for the squeamish, but thankfully doesn’t resort to cheap shocks or gore like so many of its contemporaries. There’s very little chance of me going skiing, but if I did, Frozen would keep me off the slopes, and the chairlift in particular.