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Sundance ’10 REVIEW: ‘Frozen’ Unbearably Suspenseful

To go along with my raving review, beyond the break you’ll find Ryan Daley’s thoughts on Adam Green’s Frozen, his thriller that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last weekend. Dalye’s thoughts? He says Green “ sustains a level of suspense that is almost unbearable at times.” Read on for his review and go see if the film is playing at a theater near you when Anchor Bay releases it in theaters this weekend!
During a time when every good movie of the 20th century is being crammed through the Hollywood remake machine, Adam Green’s Frozen centers around a cinematic premise so basic and brilliant, it’s amazing that nobody has ever thought of it before. Three friends get stranded on a ski lift after the resort closes one snowy Sunday night…and the resort doesn’t open again until Friday. Green approaches the nightmarish scenario with an eye on agonizing detail, putting his three central characters through all manner of winter hell with an almost gleeful relish.

When longtime buddies Dan and Joe head up to the New England mountains for a day of skiing, Dan insists on bringing his girlfriend Parker. It’s a move that irritates Joe, who wasn’t planning on spending the day on the bunny hill, but the issue is put on hold after Parker manages to seduce some discount ski passes from a husky lift operator. As in Adam Green’s previous film, Hatchet, much of the first 30 minutes is invested in character banter, and it bears mentioning that not all of it is witty. But even if the early dialogue isn’t quite as funny as it wants to be, it sets an essential stage for the harrowing events to follow.

As the day draws to a close, Joe starts bitching about how much Parker has ruined their day of awesome man skiing, so the boys decide to head up the mountain for one more last run before the resort closes. To Joe’s chagrin, Parker tags along. The husky lift operator is about to shut down for the night, but the trio convinces him to let them board the lift one last time. Needing to talk to the boss about his schedule, the lift operator passes responsibility off to another employee, telling him, “there are three more coming down”. When three guys on snowboards reach the bottom of the mountain a few seconds later, the chair lift is shut down for the rest of the week, leaving Dan, Joe, and Parker stranded halfway up the ski run.

Over the next hour, Green sustains a level of suspense that is almost unbearable at times. From frostbite, to sub-freezing urination, to hungry wolves, if there is an aspect of extreme weather chair lift survival that is frightening or gruesome, you can bet your ass that Adam Green explores it in Frozen. Speaking of the wolves, it’s worth mentioning that Green’s decision to go with actual trained wolves, as opposed to the “we-still-can’t-get- it-right” CG wolves of most recent big-budget flicks, is a decision that truly jacks up the tension.

It’s during the final hour, when the characters’ nerves are stretched tight as lift cables, that the verbal sparring of the first 30 minutes really begins to pay off. As mentioned earlier, Green seems to take an inordinate amount of pleasure in putting his Frozen characters through the physical and emotional ringer. But his enthusiasm for the power of story is palpable, and the result is an independent nail-biter that makes Paranormal Activity look like a drama club skit.

Rating 4 out of 5 Skulls



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