Sunday, 10 October 2010

FILM REVIEW: Frozen


You may remember I previewed Frozen at Sundance earlier this year - I thought it was an inspired concept with the potential for high drama and terror, but I also thought the trailer looked a little silly, and wondered if first time director Adam Green could do enough with the setting to really wring out all that potential. Well, here are the answers.

The exposition of the film is very weak - standard flat characters who all have a generic role to play - the hot guy, the hot but neurotic girlfriend (blonde) and the steady, loyal best friend - and the reasons for going on this doomed late night ski trip are fairly flimsy...you're shouting at them to get some common sense! You spend an awful lot of this film yelling at them, actually. More on that later.

So they head out on the ski lift, giving pleaded eyes to the attendant that they "won't be long", and then of course the attendant has to go the loo, and another one comes in, and he thinks they've come down... classic oh noes! - and so closes down the lift. At first our heroes just think they've stopped on a temporary hitch, but when the power goes off all across the site an hour or so later - that's when they begin to panic. And when the film finally kicks in.

A few years back I watched a film called Open Water about a couple who are accidentally left behind on a diving trip in shark infested waters. Frozen is very much the abandoned-on-a-blizzardy-mountain version of that film, although this time the enemy is the dropping temperatures, frostbite, ravenous wolves and their own fraught judgement and desperate measures to escape. It's not going to end happily, so the question is: how many of them make it out alive?

Because their situation is so perilous, as a viewer you suffer with them through their emotions (frustration, distress, anger, hope, fear, guilt, defeat) and even though they have done nothing to really make us care about them, suddenly these characters are projections of ourselves - the what would you do? position, where you're shouting out possible things they could do, or yelling at them to stop whatever frantic notion they're deciding upon next. It's extraordinarily involving, and as the film is so relentless and unforgiving, it means that above anything these decisions count. You can fight for life. You can die trying. Or you can just sit there and wait to be rescued, haunted by the thought you are your only saviour in all of this. Is it worth the risk in moving?

If you're not a fan of bits and pieces coming off the body then I suggest you get comfy behind your hands (I did). But Frozen is a very decent film indeed, never succumbing too much to the gore, and relying more on the horror generated from the characters and the fight for survival. It doesn't get bogged down in silly extreme antics, and it never becomes hysterical (though you may question the director's choice of ending). Surely a cult classic in the making, it's a surprise how much this film resonates. A recommended watch.


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