By Adam Wills
The horror genre provokes fear in a variety of ways – exploring the unknown; vicious serial killers; and experiences with the paranormal. But what triggers the most terrifying reactions is often the most realistic scenarios. Ask anyone who saw 1975’s classic, Jaws, about swimming in the ocean after their first screening of the flick. While it’s not very likely that you’ll be eaten alive by a shark, it’s an occurrence that does happen, and millions of people have it pass through their minds as they tip-toe cautiously into the deep. It’s this quality of realistic fear – in this case, a terrifying isolation combined with a battle against the elements – that really drives Adam Green’s latest horror gem, Frozen.
Frozen is the story of a group of three friends (or, two friends and one of their significant others, to be precise) who hit the slopes in their annual ski trip. Trying to sneak one last run in as the park is closing, they talk the ski lift attendant into letting them up one last time. After a mixup with the life operators, the three snowboarders get stopped half way up the hill – for good. The lights of the park turn off, and they come to the realization that nobody will be coming back to the hill until the following weekend.
Filmed entirely on location in Utah to give the film it’s extremely authentic feel, Green does a terrific job of really conveying the isolation of the trio. Wide angle, rotating shots showing the desolate surroundings invokes a sense of vertigo on the viewer just before they get swallowed by the darkness of the engulfing forests. These shots are cleverly contrasted with some of the calmer scenes, portraying the threesome up close and personal, really giving the viewer a sense that they’re sitting beside them, contemplating their own strategies for survival. Shawn Ashmore and Keven Zegers, who have been long-time friends off-screen (and their chemistry really shows) put on some solid performances, but it’s newcomer Emma Bell who steals the movie, showing an incredible range of emotions throughout the film.
While there’s moments in every movie where you can say “well, why didn’t they just [insert obvious escape plan here]”, Frozen does a solid job at exploring every option that I (and others) had to offer. The characters are rational and coherent, while still being emotional and human. The dialogue rarely seems inauthentic, and the evolution of the characters through the film really shines.
While Frozen isn’t your typical modern horror movie, having a void of an abundance of gore (although there is some, and it’s very well done), an evil antagonist or supernatural entities, it’s the lack of these elements that really add to what makes the film special. Instead, it uses a scenario that is familiar to most people, and adds a terrifying, yet very realistic, “what if?” situation. While it won’t scare me away from the ski slopes, rest assured that my knuckles will be white the entire ride on the ski lift.
(Frozen is out now on DVD and Blu-Ray from Anchor Bay Entertainment)