If you’re like me, there’s something creepy about winter. It’s that sense of being isolated. Especially, you know, if you go on one of those ski trips or hiking up in the mountains. The isolation aspect of the season has been used several times throughout the years to varying degrees in films. Most recently, Adam Green directed Frozen, a tension-filled flick that had moviegoers fainting and the ski industry fuming over the idea of being stuck alone in the mountains of a ski resort. Flash-forward to today, where writer/director Andrew Hyatt’s feature-length debut The Frozen is set to hit VOD and DVD on December 18th. While it doesn’t involve being stranded on a ski lift, the film attempts to tap into that same sense of isolation.
The story goes that Mike (Seth David Mitchel) and Emma (Brit Morgan) have hit a rough patch in their relationship. As a solution, the duo head off to the mountains for a winter camping trip. Unfortunately, after setting up camp and while cruising around the mountain, Mike hits…something…which leads to them crashing and becoming stranded. To make matters worse, the couple soon find themselves being tracked by a mysterious hunter (Noah Segan). Not long after, Mike goes missing, leaving Emma alone in the wilderness.
Right off the bat, the big story here for this film is Brit Morgan’s performance. Rather than portraying the backstabbing werewolf jezebel we know from True Blood, Morgan pulls a 180 and turns in a superb performance that, from the first time that we see her, felt natural and delivered a compelling character. I know that many critics have already said (including director Hyatt) that the film would have crashed and burned without the right actress in the role, and they were right. Morgan is able to go through the required emotions effortlessly and powerfully, without going into the over-the-top territory of her previous work. She is definitely what makes this film work…until you realize that the film itself can’t go far beyond Morgan’s acting.
One of the problems of having such a strong actor/actress taking the reigns of a film is that without equally strong performances from the other actors, especially in a film like this with just three actors, the one strength becomes a very noticeable crutch. David Mitchell isn’t bad. He’s just…okay. Mitchell seemed wooden in this role, and never really gelled with this film. His chemistry with Morgan is a prime example of this. It’s not believable. It also doesn’t help when one actor’s performance overshadows the other, which is unfortunately the case with Morgan and Mitchell.
The other problem is the fact that Hyatt is another case of a director pulling double duty with writing and can’t do both. I don’t understand why some first-time directors think that they can pull this off when it’s quite clear that they should stick to just being behind the camera. Whereas Adam Green was able to pull double duty by successfully ratcheting up tension in his script, Hyatt’s script relies far too much on the waiting game and not capitalizing on building proper tension. It just stays at a low boil without getting any higher until the end of the film. The rest of the time, we get jump scares that do nothing.
It’s a shame, since Hyatt is not a bad director. He was able to get what he wanted out of Morgan, and knew exactly that the film wouldn’t work without someone as strong as her. He also had a great cinematographer in Maximilian Gutierrez, who shot some really beautiful scenes. It’s just that The Frozen was one of those films that required a bit more than what Hyatt had on hand. The film could’ve been a lot worse if it wasn’t Morgan in the lead role. As it stands, this film is a fire-and-forget flick that serves more to pad Morgan’s acting reel than to satisfy a tension-filled psychological horror niche.
The DVD is presented in 1.77:1 anamorphic widescreen, and features a great-looking transfer. The audio side of things comes in two flavors: a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround or Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo. It’s your typical Direct-to-DVD stuff: good all-around, but nothing to stand out.
Apart from the startup trailers, the only extra on the disc is the main feature’s trailer and a slipcase replicating the front cover of the DVD.