Frozen has clearly been made with good intentions, writer/Director Adam Green having chosen to work entirely with practical effects in a ‘real’ environment and plonking its cast in a very believable and hopeless situation.
Everything about it seems tailored towards creating a genuine experience through plausible dangers. It is a pity, then, that Frozen is clearly just an unabashed rip off of shaky-cam shark based thriller, Open Water. And sad even, considering that, at best, it plays like a rejected story from Tales of the Crypt Keeper. At worse it vaguely resembles a Dawsons Creek Halloween special.
The premise is incredibly basic but potentially riveting. Three college students go to a ski resort for the weekend and, due to a frightening act of negligence by a member of staff, are trapped on a ski lift. If they wait it out then they will freeze to death but are too high up to merely jump.
So begins an erosive fight against the forces of nature and, for the audience, a great test of patience.
It all starts very promising, a series of disorientating camera moves track the sporadic flow of the chair lift machinery, its cogs and wires grinding together with concussive resonance. Shortly after, however, we are welcomed into the resort with a sweeping shot of the snow covered mountains which is accompanied by a vile college rock ditty.
But as utterly hideous as such music may be, even Hooty and the Blowfish is less invasive than Frozen’s original score which will, deliberately it almost seems, chime in with all the hilarity and emotional subtlety of a dying clown.
Typically it nests itself over the character’s confessional monologues, clanging and whooping with a patronising melancholy, a ‘sombre’ piano run cutting sharply through the potential drama. This is particularly frustrating as whatever empathy one may feel towards the characters is already meager.
Parker, Lynch and Walker are their names and so insipid are they that one will find oneself rooting for the wolves, hoping, nay, praying that they will eat the boring f**kers alive. The tragedy here is that the performances are only poor as a result of the script. The actors do a pretty good job considering the slim material they have to work with. Only once will you be privileged to an intense dramatic moment when one of the characters blames another for the death of the third member.
This is a fantastic moment that causes you sympathise with the characters for all of thirty seconds, until that damn score comes rolling on in again.
Above all, Frozen’s the greatest folly is its wholly misguided tone. The story is presented as a serious, nail biting survival thriller, but there is a thin line between dour and funny and, sadly, the film shifts woozily from one side to the other. Alarm bells begin to ring a few moments after the lift shuts down, what follows is an unfortunate series of events that border on parody. This is not to say that it’s all bad, the initial thwack after a character inevitably leaps off the chair is spine tingly shocking and a particular incident with frost bite of the hand is inevitably wince inducing. Sadly, such visceral moments are too far between to create any kind of lasting effect.
The tragedy of Frozen is that there is clearly a good movie in there somewhere desperate to get out. There is a stand out performance from Shawn Ashmore and some fairly decent direction. But the unintentionally comedic elements too regularly dissipate the dramatic tension. More disappointing than awful, Frozen is so much potential wasted.