“ITS OPEN WATER ON SKIS!”
By now everyone knows that I love my horror more than any genre. So it comes to no surprise when I say one of the most anticipated films of the year for me personally, finally landed on my lap tonight, in the shape of Frozen, a film by the way that was released about the same time has Zombieland, and bypassed nearly every cinema, and headed towards the straight to DVD market!
So why the excitement?
Simply because of one Adam Green, the name on the directors chair, who gave the world the quite splendid horror 80’s throwback Hatchet and currently getting his tools and skills in order for the impending sequel. Hatchet was a slash dream for horror fans, harking back memories of when the likes of Friday the 13th was fresh and enjoyable, and also creating a new horror icon in the shape of Victor Crowley. Since then the horror world has been waiting to see if Green was a one off, a man who struck lucky with a horror in an age of remakes and gore porn. What did not help either was his second film Spiral somehow got released with no fanfare and no publicity. A mixture of Jazz music, horror, and an ending straight out of The Usual Suspects, the film failed to find an audience, and was quite a dull watch that would surely be in my top 10 of worst horrors of the year. Lucky for Green, no one watched it and somehow his reputation stayed in tack, and now comes this, a horror in which the word of mouth is building to a great height, it seems if you listen to the voice across the pond, that Green may have outdone himself, that his third film is better than his Hatchet job, surely he couldn’t have? Frozen can not be that good?
The horror genre has four stages at the moment. We have the Home Invasion, Gore Porn, pointless remakes and this, holidaymakers in peril. Here we have three friends, Parker (Emma Bell), Dan (Kevin Zegers) and Lynch (Shawn Ashmore) on a skiing holiday who decide to take a night time ski down a huge slope. The reason for the late night fun is because the day was ruined by Parker and her inability to ski, causing friction between the two boys, because Dan has been seeing Parker for over a year and has spent all day teaching her, making Lynch feeling frustrated that the two, who have been best friends since high school have not had the fun on this trip like they used too. Begging for the chairlift attendant to let them go up for one last ride, he reluctantly agrees but tells them to hurry has his shift is due to end and there is a storm coming. So up they go, halfway up the mountain, laughing and joking, blissfully unaware that events on the ground will change their lives for ever. A total misunderstanding which is quite scary how the film does it, the ski chair stops in mid air with the three looking down at the fair drop from the ground. At first the three think its a fault and laugh it off, but then the lights of the park go out and they realise that not only are they stuck up there, but also all alone and worse of all, the park is now closed until Friday, with today being only Sunday!!! Its a frightening concept, and straight away you are with the friends sharing this problem. Do they wait a week for the park to open, which is a total impossible as the cold would kill them if they don’t do something. So they must jump from the chairlift! Impossible again, the height is too high, and so they must climb across the cable! again impossible because the wire would cut into they gloves, and the chairlifts are too far apart. So what can they do?
This is the beauty of Frozen has we just watching three likeable people freezing to death. Comparisons to Open Water is of course a must, but Frozen builds on the concept created by that shark flick and adds more suspense and thrills. The first twenty minutes is the usual get to know you characters, but for forty minutes its a rollercoaster of energy, all building to a quite fantastic never see it coming moment that is really horrific and makes Frozen one of the best human against nature pictures in recent times. What I also loved is the realism that this picture generates. There is no stage here! Green and his crew actually had his young actors up on that ski chair, at nighttime in the middle of that storm. The cold getting stuck to their face is all there, the cold breath that shows from their mouths is real, when they scream that they are freezing, they are actually screaming. The only thing that is fake is when the film shows the gore and there are some real look away moments. The hand on the bar is one of the best scenes of the year, and I was on many occasions at the edge of my seat, screaming at the tension coming from the screen.
Yes there are lull moments. You have to expect that. Green puts himself into a difficult corner by having most of the screen time with three people sitting on a chair and there are brief spells in which we have to witness some weak dialogue. Parker weeping for the fact that if she dies her puppy will miss her brings the quality down for a while, but Frozen generates so much suspense that by the time the next set piece hits you quickly forget it.
If you think that I am praising a film that just has three humans sitting there just panicking and screaming, then you a wrong. There is more to this film, but I really do not want to tell anyone what goes on. There are many surprises and turns, some horrific moments and a will from yourself to want these three to survive.
While films like The Ruins had holidaymakers getting killed by plants in nonsense but enjoyable tosh, Frozen is frightening because this could happen to anyone at anytime. Its believable and gripping and if Jaws made you scared to go near the sea, then watching Frozen will simply make you think twice the next time you decide on a skiing holiday.
OVERALL: Frozen hurts you like a sudden frostbite, with its simple concept that oozes suspense and thrills. Adam Green shows that Hatchet was not a one off, with a film that may share the basic concept of Open Water, but is the much better film. Terror on a Ski chair has never and will never be this good again…….One of the years best……