106 of 125 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2010
We've seen so many thrillers in which the threat comes from something unnatural, be it a ghost, a zombie, or a masked serial killer that cannot himself be killed. This is partly why "Frozen" is such a refreshing experience - nature itself is the threat. Human beings are capable of withstanding a great deal, but there's always a breaking point, and this movie does a pretty good job of searching for it. It begs the question: What would you do if you found yourself in a similar situation? Is there anything that could be done? Or is it merely a matter of waiting to die? For something that very easily could have been a mindless shock fest, "Frozen" is instead an effective story where suspense builds from a fairly plausible situation.
As far as the plot is concerned, there isn't all that much to describe. In fact, it can all be summed up in one sentence: At a mountain resort, three college kids struggle to survive when they're left stranded on a ski lift. Everything depends on how the plot advances, and this includes character development, which is surprisingly strong. Dan (Kevin Zegers) and Lynch (Shawn Ashmore) have been friends since the first grade. Because of Dan's new girlfriend, Parker (Emma Bell), Lynch now feels that their friendship is in jeopardy; their skiing trips have traditionally been a Guys Only thing, and yet here she is, tagging along. For the first twenty minutes or so, Lynch repeatedly tells Parker, as nicely as possible, that she's in the way.
Hoping to get in one last hill before the ski lift closes for the night, the three smooth-talk their way onto the ski lift. Unfortunately, there are two lift operators, and the second one doesn't realize that the three skiers who have just descended are not the same three currently ascending the mountain. The lift is subsequently switched off. Dangling above a snowy slope on a bleak winter night, Dan, Lynch, and Parker remember, with horrific clarity, that the resort will remain closed for an entire week.
You can probably imagine what they now must face. Obviously, the cold, which quickly leads to frostbite in spite of their warm clothing. There's also the heat of the midday sun, which will probably lead to sunburn. And that howling off in the distance? I can assure you that it isn't coming from rescue dogs. So what can Dan, Lynch, and Parker do? Shout for help? Try to pull themselves across the sharp wire carrying the suspended chairs? Jump off and hope they don't break their legs? Throw their ski equipment to get someone's attention? Lose control altogether? Take your pick. No matter what they decide to do, it sure as hell won't be easy.
Had the characters not been properly developed, there would be no conceivable way to successfully make this last for just over ninety minutes. Writer/director Adam Green, who had previously directed the slasher homage "Hatchet," goes in the right direction by giving each of the three leads some well worded dialogue, most of which focuses on memories and primal emotional outbursts. There are some good moments between Parker and Lynch, who eventually understand that hating one another will get them nowhere. One of the best scenes shows Parker tearfully panicking over the fate of her new puppy, who was left alone in her apartment. Stupid, you say? What would you think about if you were in her place? Exactly.
If there is a weakness to "Frozen," it's that some of the suspense is wasted on scenes of overbearing makeup effects, which I can't describe for fear of spoiling the plot. What I will say is that movies like this work so much better when it relies on psychological horror; the idea of falling off, of freezing, of being attacked, of losing your balance, etc. is always more effective than seeing it. Of course, there would be no resolution if nothing physical happened, so maybe it's a moot point. Regardless, I felt the human scenes were stronger than the action scenes, where the characters were reduced to little more than infernal screamers.
The long and short of it is that "Frozen" is better than I thought it was going to be. In an age when horror movies are about little more than young people dying elaborate deaths, I realized that I actually cared about these skiers and what was happening to them. While it occasionally falls victim to conventional thriller tactics, it still tries for something more, getting under your skin not through visuals so much as through the overall situation. The idea of being left alone in a hostile environment with no resources is genuinely frightening. The idea of zombies eating your brains? Fun, maybe, but certainly not frightening. There's no chance of that happening in real life, despite Max Brooks' evidence to the contrary.
28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
A dubiously labeled "horror" film--"Frozen" is actually a surprisingly strong film about survival. If you were disappointed by "The Blair Witch Project" (a harrowing film about being lost, not about witches) or "Open Water" (a film more reliant on the drama of helplessness than on shark scares), then you will probably see little point to "Frozen." If, however, the very real frights of those films unsettled you--this film should tap into the same sensibilities and be right up your alley. An incredibly tense tale of three friends who are stranded on a ski lift, "Frozen" explores very real and powerful feelings of isolation and desperation as the trio comes to terms with their situation. Realizing that to survive is to act is only the first hurdle. Unfortunately, it seems as if nature itself is conspiring against the kids.
"Frozen" is a surprisingly sophisticated drama despite its very simple premise. The terror is understated and real (not at all what I was expecting from the director of the middling horror/comedy "Hatchet"). Kevin Zegers, Shawn Ashmore, and Emma Bell do a fantastic job bringing this unpleasant experience to life. From joking bravado, to quiet desperation, to regret and recriminations, to acceptance and action--you really feel tapped into the emotions and fear of the protagonists. That's why "Frozen" is so disturbing and so great. The middle third of the film is so intense and memorable, it will definitely stick with me as one of the most horrifyingly bleak things I've seen this year! And while the film does strive for a "scary" payoff with a bigger action sequence at the finale, the palpable sense of danger of the film's quieter moments is never equaled.
I truly think it is a disservice to market "Frozen" strictly in the horror category. It is most definitely a character driven drama. The horror of the premise is real and not manufactured for maximum scares. Great characterizations, effective performances and a slow-build tension distinguish "Frozen" as a harrowing and heartbreaking journey of human emotions. I hope that people will come to discover and appreciate "Frozen." It is my choice for one of the biggest sleepers of the year--I'm absolutely stunned by how well it achieves what it set out to do. A serious recommendation that extends beyond horror to all mainstream audiences! 4 1/2 stars. KGHarris, 9/10.
16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2010
It's a good conversational piece. And it is shot nicely to qualify as entertainment and a movie. So if you accept situations presented to you and you can sustain the belief without asking any nagging questions, then it's a movie to pass time with. But there are certain junctures where the characters made certain decisions that seem to serve stretching a movie out to 90 minutes. Are these kids just young and inexperienced? For the amount of times one boy boasts of experiences from the past semesters, we are to believe they are college kids. But either the quality of college education isn't what it used to be, or the Darwin awards are at work here.
I watched this movie with two 40-something guys, and they were basically tearing their hair out throughout the movie. There's no sense of urgency at advancing nightfall, frostbite, hypothermia. When the sun is up and it is warm, people chat and talk. Decisions are made to act only near night time when the mercury drops. Jackets are not zipped all the way to the top, up to the full length of the zippers. Hands are left bare, out in the open, when they should be tucked inside to retain warmth. People should cuddle to sustain body heat. None of this takes place.
If I knew it was going to be five more days before the resort opened. I would say "everyone, take off your jackets and pants (they are the tough synthetic material ski apparel are made from these days that don't rip easily). Tie it end-to-end and let one person slide halfway down the makeshift "rope" to the bottom. Take a leap, tuck-and-roll. Pull the shirts / pants back up, put the clothing on, throw the guy his clothes on the bottom, and the guy goes for help. End of story.
26 of 35 people found the following review helpful
I would give you a synopsis but in theory you've made it this far so you know the gist: two guys and a girl worm their way onto a ski lift as the park is closing for "one last ride" and the park then closes for the week with them still on the lift, suspended high in the air during a storm.
When I saw the previews for this movie earlier in the year I wanted to see it since I enjoyed Open Water and I saw this movie as one in similar plot to that. I'm allergic to cold temperatures (no, I am not kidding, I am) so this is my own personal hell and would be a living nightmare for me. Sadly unlike Open Water I didn't feel like I was on the edge of my seat the entire movie nor did I ever really believe they were in danger.
My major gripe is that NONE of them ever look that terribly cold. I don't know who the heck dropped this ball but it was the first of many. If you are in fact SO cold that the idea of waiting until morning is so unbearable that you contemplate jumping to your possible death for the slim chance that you can find help then I would hope that you would zip up your coat the entire way and maybe even toss the hood over your head too for good measure. It also appeared that not only was the outside jackets mostly unzipped but also the lining as well..?!!? I get that would have been hard to film actors who had their faces covered but at least when they slept they could have burrowed in. Call me crazy but I may even cuddle with those beside me - even if I didn't like them - for that whole body heat thing. When sleeping you also tend to curl into a ball when you are cold to conserve body heat - especially curling your extremities in. You don't naturally stretch out and make the vulnerable extremities more susceptible to the elements. I think if they had done these things - even if it didn't change the rest of the movie - I think I would have been more involved in the story and would have had a higher opinion of it.
The storyline itself is somewhat bumbling and awkward. The nail biting scenes are all too quick and the web between is filled with awkward conversation that doesn't make much sense. Granted, I can't imagine anyone in that situation would be a great conversationalist however it was severely lacking.
There is quite a few "holy cow I can't look at this" scenes and for the gore fans that will be straight up your alley. It's more cringe worthy than real gore but it will make you take a breath in and probably look away. I wouldn't recommend this for the weak stomached.
My final gripe is that the back cover pretty much gives away most of the movie - which is a complete buzzkill. Why do all of this build up if the entire time you are waiting for the pictured scene on the back to happen - which is within about 5 minutes from the end of the film.
It isn't the worst thriller I have ever seen but isn't the best by far.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2010
Good B movie, with some great acting and some pretty good emotional factors. I'm not much of a skier myself but you do have to wonder how much attention people would get if they did "happen" to get stuck on one, which is the reason this movie isn't very realistic. I live in WV and never once has there ever been a story of someone getting stuck on a ski lift, pretty much in the history of the state. Even at the places we have here Snowshoe and Wisp, they always check and double or triple check and do up keep all year around to maintain everything and make sure no one is or would be stranded. All that aside the idea is clever, and its pleasant to watch. The falling, frost bite, climbing on the sharp cables are all very accurate and plausible, so you could really see yourself in the situation of doing what the kids do to try and survive. And the level of panic and emotion is set very well within the circumstances, so thumbs up for that. The one thing i hated about this movie is the wolves. Rarely do they hang around were people thrive, let alone a ski resort, or if they did they are very afraid of humans and would run at the site of you. Basically like a shark to blood they have the wolves come out after a minute or so when the first person is on the ground, due to the scent of blood. No. Not to give to much away but i think maybe they should have thought of something a little better than getting eaten by wolves, but it does add to the horror. So its not a bad movie, and not a great one, its just there. The music is very emotional for a survival picture and you can relate to how the final person is feeling when staring death in the face. And though its not the ending i wanted or expected its better than i thought.
Next time leave out the wolves who wouldnt come near you, especially to rip you apart and eat your entrails. lol
15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
What struck me most about this movie were how simplistic the plot and inane the dialogue are: perhaps, when the big endorsement for a film is from "Ain't It Cool News," one might sense a disaster about to hit your plasma screen, and on that, this movie delivers.
The screenwriter even admits that he thought up the plot in 20 seconds. You can find that in the bonus material (yeah, I even waded through about half of that, which is even MORE inane than the movie). I bet that conceiving the dialogue must have taken him a whole 20 minutes, though writing it out must have taken longer, but it was something he accomplished while producing another movie (hint hint): if you want to watch 3 (then 2) people sitting on a chair lift chattering ad nauseam about the most trite subjects, well, then this is your movie. Want minute detail about how one character spends her Christmases watching the same movie over and over until the TV station shuts down? Do you wish to compare the stink of your used dental floss to that of the male lead? Etc.
What the screenwriter also seems to have forgotten, or maybe not have ever learned, is that to feel empathy or sympathy for characters facing near-certain death, one needs first to establish their "likability" for the audience. But these are utterly unsympathetic characters, other than their being human beings, who are college-aged but act from the outset (character development) as if they're adolescents with a social development not beyond age 14, not to mention their being potheads, thieves, and lazy opportunists. They make utterly STUPID and foolish choices that land them in the predicament that they're in -- it's not a stretch at all to say that they brought their plights upon themselves, for it's the logical outcome of their reckless, stupid, selfish actions.
Furthermore, this movie really isn't scary or thrilling -- it just alternates between being boring and gross. If that "moves" you, then this is your movie, and I've thus given it one more star for such folks than it really deserves.
If you want to watch a FANTASTIC mountain thriller, though in the climbing genre rather than sitting-on-a-chair-lift genre, try North Face.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2010
This movie was fairly entertaining, more than I hoped for (expected it to be pretty terrible). It has the cliche young college idiots who only care about smoking weed, etc. Their dialogue was often annoying in the beginning and barely has you paying attention. But once they get stuck up there, the challenge of getting down or staying there for 5 days is quite frightening. There were also some grotesque scenes that I haven't seen in other movies. Watch for the shock factor, but don't have ridiculous expectations. The only thing that bothered me was the lack of mist in their breath from the cold!! It was a pretty enjoyable film. Since the DVD is so cheap it's worth getting for me and the movie has replay value.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 13, 2011
I admit it: I'm a sucker.
I realize this happened a while ago. I was about 12 years old, at the prime of my skiing days(right before I decided not to go pro and instead try to hit on women.) I forget what movie I was watching, but a preview came on for Aspen Extreme where these two fluorescent-clad guys were running around Aspen, Colorado, skiing off-trail, hooking up with hot, rich women, you know, good stuff that any pubescent heterosexual male would eat up.
The movie sucked. Well, at the time it was awesome, but looking back, yeah, it sucked. But it was a skiing movie. I COULD NOT stay away. Granted, it wasn't as cheesy as Lane Meyer winning the big race with one ski, but at least Better Off Dead was meant to be that way.
So, 15 years later, I get suckered in again, except this time it's a horror movie: Frozen. I expected big things, like, not wanting to ever go skiing again for fear of being mauled by a wendigo, or getting killed by a chair-lift operator who's jealous of my girlfriend. Sadly, all it made me want to do was head up to Vermont.
The plot is pretty straight-forward: A guy goes skiing with his best friend and girlfriend. After hustling a chair-lift operator to let them ski without a lift ticket, the three get stuck on a chair-lift, and end up trying to survive because:
1) The mountain is closed all week during what seems like peak ski season, just because...
2) No one checks the chair-lifts after they are shut down
3) There apparently isn't a chair-lift operator at the top of the lift, which means the guy at the bottom is magically able to stop the lift when someone at the top has a problem getting off
4) There is nothing wolves like more than skiing
Good times and hilarity ensue.
Besides these plot problems, the movie itself is pretty intense. People die. Blame is placed. Pasts are dug up. People try to be heroes. While there isn't much violence in the film (just your average broken legs, wolf attacks, and a scene that makes putting your tongue on a frozen metal pole seem like fun), those scenes work well as a whole, because it makes the movie more personal. They are driving forces that keep the movie interesting in the dramatic department.
Which leads to what this movie is: a drama/thriller, with horror devices. It's not a "horror movie". That's not a bad thing. Sure, the horror elements, while sparse, are cringe-worthy, but about midway through the movie, there's no real fear. It's kind of like that movie Alive: after you get past the realization of what's going to happen, you're not really scared. Maybe that parallel is meant to be in Frozen.
I did have one thing nagging at me throughout the movie. One of the actors was familiar, but I couldn't place him. Turns out, it was Shawn Ashmore, Iceman from the X-Men series. You can't make this stuff up.
I give this movie 3 out of 5 frozen Jack Nicholsons. It may seem high considering the review, but the effort was noble.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2010
I watched this one the other night, and while there were some suspenseful moments(most of which were wondering what Mr. Darwin was going to do with this hapless trio) it fell flat on too many levels. I normally love horror movies, and I also watched "Hatchet" recently, and liked it alot more....simply because it didn't seem to masquarade as something anything more than it was. Not so with "Frozen"...
The actors, while decent, were decidedly clueless. I won't get into all the things they could have done vs. what they did in fact do. Is this what colleges are producing these days. I guess they took the Incomplete in "Common Sense particularly when your a$$ depends on it 101" that semester. Why would that clown think he could jump and not injure himself to the point where he would be immobile thus negating the point of him jumping off the lift to begin with? Oh and I love the "Don't let her watch!" repeatedly as the wolves are attacking....you are about to get eaten alive by wolves my man, would YOU really care about who is seeing it or their fragile psyche cracking? I doubt it. Oh, and the wolves....like some others said, these are the smartest wolves going(far smarter then these three people). And, they are inconsistent, they spend most of the movie hanging around and basically attacking as soon as any opprotunity presents itself(okay, fine), then in the end, the injured girl crawls away, even after being noticed by at least two wolves that couldn't have been more then 10 feet away, that weren't feasting on the second guy....ahhh wtf? I thought for sure as she was just getting to the road they would appear in masse and drag her off to be devoured, and I think that would have been a much better(at least consistent) ending. It would have been like Jaws swimming off and leaving Brody on the mast of the Orca after attempting to eat Hooper and definitely eating Quint. Oh well....
There was one actor in the film that definitely had its redeeming value, and that was the environment. You did get that stillness and isolation that is key for a movie like this. But that was the films biggest and best quality. By a mile. But I think we can all think of a number of horror films that utilize this well, and give you a better story and characters as well.
Worth a watch(although I doubt you'll keep coming back to it), just don't let your expectations get too high.
18 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2010
As it's been mentioned already, this is movie is exactly like Open Water, but on land and with wolves instead of sharks. The movie could have worked as a land adaption of Open Water, but it starts off in the most off-putting way possible -- it has the typical, cliche obnoxious 20-something character types that NO ONE ever cares about and therefore makes you almost want to root for their demise. This is yet another movie I had to edit via the FF on the remote because there's just so much boring, uninteresting dialog from characters that are stereotypes.
The film does strike a chord for me though, because I grew up snow skiing and occasionally the lift will stop to accommodate someone having a hard time getting on or off, and almost every time that happens, I can't help but think of the "What if there's no way off but to jump" scenario. Although I can't ever recall worrying about wolves waiting for me on the ground.
And come on, out of the 3 of them, none of them had their cell phone with them?