31 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN: FROZEN (2010)
Frozen was directed by Adam Green, a man who has a clear love of genre films, but that doesn't always translate to a good filmmaker. Green also directed Hatchet and Hatchet II. Both films don't pretend to be anything other than dumb slasher films, and they succeed quite well in that regard; they are kind of fun at the same time, but really don't offer anything unique that makes me want to watch them again.
Frozen is a film that somewhat demands you take Green a little more seriously. This is more a straight-forward thriller with one of those great "What the fuck" concepts that will hopefully keep you glued to the screen for the 90 minutes it asks of you. Three friends, acted quite well by Emma Bell (Final Destination 5), Shawn Ashmore (X-Men), and Kevin Zegers (the Dawn of the Dead remake), get stuck on a ski lift after the most idiotic of security personell shut it down for the week while our trio our still on it.
It's a pretty great premise, and a challenging one at that. You've got three people in a ski lift for the majority of the film. One of the major critiscims lobbed at that film is that it might have worked better as a thirty minute episode of something along the lines of Twilight Zone. I don't completely disagree, and even at a tad over 90 minutes, the film still could have used a slight trim. However, Green racks up the tension just enough to keep you glued to the screen and keeps you interested in all three of the characters as they try to figure out what in the hell they are going to do to get out of this situation.
Jumping off the lift seems like a pretty harrowing proposition, but that doesn't mean it isn't tried. Possibly scaling the wires back to one of the ladders along the lift is also addressed, and a pack of wolves show up for good measure which look quite a bit better and more menacing than the CG creations in this year's The Grey (which I loved for the record but the wolves looked kind of silly). The wolves provide a pretty cool "Up the Ante" kind of moment in the film, but to be honest I'm not sure they were really needed. Just getting down from the lift was enough of a predicament.
Not to mention, the wolves start making you question the reality of the situation more than you need to while watching a film like this one. I just have a hard time believing a highly populated ski resort would have a problem with wolves coming out at night and eating the skiers, but that's kind of what this scenario leads us to believe. Also, these wolves act more like fairy tale monsters than actual wolves or I guess more notably based on Green's obvious love for the sub genre they act exactly like a killer does in a slasher film.
But as I have alluded to the character moments are really what make the film stand out. Mind you all three of these people are kind of dicks (they bribe their way onto the ski lift in the first place because they don't have enough money to buy the lift tickets), but that doesn't make them unrealistic or mean that you don't care about their fate. Emma Bell's sad story about what would happen to her dog and it possibly starving to death if she couldn't get to her almost brought a tear to this dog lover's eye. There are quite a few good moments like this; these seem like geniune people and they talk and act like I believe any of us would in a crazy and dire situation such as this one.
The actual "Horror Movie" esque sequences involving the wolves attacking and one of our crew breaking his legs, not to mention a pretty severe case of frostbite, all lead to some pretty tense filled and gruesome moments. It's body horror lite or David Cronenberg Jr. if you will, but these scenes work for the most part; playing up the urban legend aspect to the film's storyline.
I was also suprised at how much I liked the ending. Obviously you don't want to see everyone die, but anyone surviving this scenario the way it is staged seems rather crazy as well. Green makes it work though and for that I applaud because while I was watching this I just assumed I was going to be writing something like "Great for the first hour and then runs out of steam." Thankfully, that was not the case.
So, yes, could this possibly work better as part of an anthology series or film? Maybe. Although I think I'm in the minority in thinking that the wolves were not needed, so if you keep those in there I'm not sure how you could make this much shorter. That being said, I'm not going to argue if that is your beef with the film. I still think it's worth checking out if the premise interests you at all.