HCF may be one of the newest voices on the web for all things Horror and Cult, and while our aim is to bring you our best opinion of all the new and strange that hits the market, we still can not forget about our old loves, the films that made us want to create the website to spread the word. So, now and again our official critics at the HCF headquarters have an urge to throw aside their new required copies of the week and dust down their old collection and bring them to the fore….our aim, to make sure that you may have not missed the films that should be stood proud in your collection. After taking you to The Reef a short while ago, Dr Lenera brings you another neglected gem from last year featuring people in a not entirely dissimilar situation.
HCF REWIND NO.17.FROZEN 
AVAILABLE ON DVD AND BLU RAY:Now
STARRING:Emma Bell, Shawn Ashmore, Kevin Zegers, Ed Ackerman
RUNNING TIME:86 mins
REVIEWED BY:Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
Dan Walker, his girlfriend Parker O’Neil and his best friend Joe Lynch are going snowboarding at Mt Holliston. Joe thinks that his and Dan’s friendship has suffered because of Parker coming into their life and resents him. They don’t have enough money to go on the chairlift so Parker bribes Jason the lift-worker to let them on. They enjoy it so much that, just as its closing down, they go for one last quick ride. However, Jason goes to resolve a problem and his replacement stops the lift and shuts the place down with Dan, Parker and Joe still in the chairlift suspended high above the ground. The three have a choice – risk freezing in the chairlift or try to jump to the ground…………..
I’m going to admit that, though I most certainly know of them, I haven’t seen the previous films made by Adam Green the writer and director of Frozen – Hatchet, Hatchet 2 and Spiral, but I am certainly going to check them out now after seeing Frozen. This is a truly nail–biting, tense movie that takes a simple premise and makes a fine job of spinning it out into a film, and although most wouldn’t categorise it as a horror movie, it certainly has elements of one. It’s only really flawed by being rather unbelievable at times, but I reckon you’ll probably be so caught up in the tension that it may not be until after the film has finished that you may say to yourself “hang on a minute”? Shot like all of Green’s films with virtually the same crew, it was made on a fairly low budget and shot not just entirely on location but shot totally without CGI, something that I can’t praise high enough in an age where CGI is often used for far more things than it needs to be. It caused a stir at the 1999 Sundance Festival when some audience members apparently fainted, though it only did average business at the box office, partly due to limited publicity and partly due to it not being on that many screens. It went straight to DVD in most countries. These are all things which befall many low budget, independent genre movies, and I’m not going to turn this review into a rant but it seems to be happening more and more now with the big studios, the big films and the big cinema chains controlling more and more.
The film opens nicely with some close ups of the workings on a stair–lift, probably the same one that will feature later, and then starts to introduce out characters. Now this section is often the weakest part of a film like this, and is very hard to get right. You want the characters to feel real, be likeable and be interesting, but you don’t want to spend too long on this stuff so it gets dull. Frozen doesn’t really succeed in this respect – the main hinge is that Joe feels neglected and feels Parker has come between him and Dan, but it’s so overdone, especially in one scene, that I half expected Joe to ‘come out’ as gay and declare his undying love for Dan. Still, after a bit of this tedium they get on the stair-lift, and once it is broken down the film becomes quite riveting indeed. The reactions seems reasonably believable, at least at first, such as telling cruel jokes to lighten the mood and a very well written discussion about the best way to die. Then one of the characters decides to jump for it and it’s then that matters do becomes a bit unbelievable, with no one thinking of taking off their clothes and making a rope out of them so they can slide down, no one covering their face to ward off frostbite, and wolves attacking, wolves who just happen to be hanging round an often- busy ski slope. There are other silly things, but I will say that I only thought of most of them afterwards, so gripping was the film.
There are some set pieces which surprised me in their sheer intensity, and this film has probably the most wince–inducing broken leg scene I’ve ever seen, with the snapping, the bone sticking out etc, all shown in horrid and totally convincing detail. There’s also hands frozen to a railing that have to be peeled off and a couple of gory wolf attack scenes, though Green can’t resist going all close-up and shaky with the camera with the latter. The make–up effects really are impressive though and it seems they used real wolves too. Also admirable is the fact that the three main cast members actually were suspended in a chair – lift, and I wish more films these days have that ‘go out there and do it’ attitude. Now I’ve read complaints that the dialogue in this movie is bad, but I just don’t agree, and in fact I would go as far to say that it detracts attention from some of the unbelievable aspects and goes a long way in making you empathise with the characters. When Parker goes on about her dog and how he won’t understand she’s dead, for example, it’s not unrealistic and badly written at all in my opinion, the woman is clearly going hysterical for goodness sake! I also liked when Joe tells Parker about his one true love, and though he came across as a bit of a jerk before, we suddenly like Joe and want him to survive.
Green does a superb job of direction, often using different camera techniques but rarely overdoing them. They remain in the service of the story. The same can be said for Andy Garfield’s score, which is mostly quite unobtrusive, though I’m not sure the film actually required a score at all. Now Frozen wouldn’t work at all without good casting, and all three leads are very impressive. Shawn Ashmore and Kevin Zegers really convince as life-long friends, and relative newcomer Emma Bell, who is in the upcoming Final Destination 5, is simply superb as Parker. She really makes you feel for her predicament, especially during one actually quite upsetting scene which I won’t go into detail about, but features the words “don’t look”. She nails the scene totally. Frozen is an odd film really, it’s about 80% very good and 20% very poor, the poor being the total absurdity of some of the character’s actions [or non-actions] , which may not like sound like it is of much importance but it was all I could think about the day after watching the movie, and therefore is very important indeed. The way the film is put together though is very impressive indeed and it is a really gripping and intense watch. I was there, totally with these people, hoping so much that they would make it through, so does it really matter that much if the movie falls apart a bit afterwards?