Frozen Review: Cold Souls
Horror fans will probably be familiar with Adam Green’s previous offering, 2006’s Hatchet, a gory, by-the-numbers slasher film. Frozen is a much more accomplished outing, one which has a simple storyline but is a deceptively powerful and gripping little movie.
The story is simple. Three likable college students, Lynch, Parker and Dan, are skiing in the mountains and bribe a ski lift attendant to let them ride one last time before the resort shuts due to the incoming inclement weather. Unfortunately, due to a communication breakdown, the power is turned off and, gradually realising that no one knows that they’re stuck there, the trio face the prospect of hanging 100 feet off the ground for five days.
To reveal any details of how they try to deal with their predicament would be to spoil the movie but it really is edge-of-your-seat stuff (ahem). It’s such a simple premise that Green’s script is forced to rely on its characters to drive the plot forward, and the initial 20 minutes in which Dan’s romance with Parker and buddy relationship with Lynch comes into conflict sets up a trio whose petty problems will soon be thrown into sharp relief against their forthcoming ordeal.
This focus on characterisation means that it’s easy to empathise with them when they start to get into trouble. Their performances are universally excellent, particularly Emma Bell as Parker, whose face is a mask of terror as she endures not only the cold, but acrophobia, panic and eventually terror as she witnesses something truly gruesome. It’s remarkably difficult to maintain a visual interest with a film shot in one static location, but Green makes admirable use of the stark surroundings – the metal chair that the trio are stuck in becomes an indomitable black monster, hanging by a razor-sharp steel wire and outlined like a hanging skeleton against the pitiless encroaching snow.
Frozen’s relentless suspense never lets up, Green dangling the imagined peril of situations moments before they happen, like the ominous grey fin in Jaws, whether it’s Parker’s gradually worsening frostbite, the loss of a glove, or their desperate bids to reach the ground. Added tension is generated by the deceptively ordinary predicament the group find themselves in. It could potentially happen to anyone on a skiing trip; a persistent apprehension is that it could so easily be you.
Frozen does what it says on the tin. There’s no pretence to social commentary, no attempts to be quirky or to have a moral, and no basis on true events. What’s left is a taut, bare-bones thriller which will have you just as inescapably glued to your seat as the trio that hang helplessly above the desolate winter landscape.