With prices for cinema tickets now reaching ridiculous heights it’s not often I will treat myself to a new release unless it’s something I simply cannot wait for. Instead, I’m happy to content myself with a cheap DVD or a film on TV which may have slipped through my critical net and, believe me, there have been far too many. Whether the films featured here are recent or old I’ll still be providing my honest opinion on them and, with the benefit of hindsight in many cases, may offer a slightly different take to contemporary reviewers.
There seems to have been an influx of films based on real-life events involving survival situations in the last decade or so. While Touching the Void (2003) was amongst the best there was Open Water (2004) to counterbalance such quality. Adam Green’s film puts a trio of people at a ski resort up against the prospect of starvation, cold and hungry wolves. These kind of films often have an intriguing idea but their execution can let them down badly. Sitting down to watch Frozen I had my reservations but as always I kept these in check so I could judge the film on its own merit.
Best friends Dan (Kevin Zegers) and Joe (Shawn Ashmore) are enjoying a Sunday afternoon at a ski resort with Dan having brought his girlfriend, Parker (Emma Bell), along. They are reluctant to pay the full price to use the ski lift that will take them into the heights of the mountains but Parker manages to bribe the lift attendant so they only have to pay for one person. When a storm approaches, the resort decides it will close early but the trio want to go up the mountain one last time for a final run down the slopes. The attendant reluctantly agrees and once they’re in the ski lift chair he has to leave his post, informing another attendant that three skiers are coming down the mountain and the lift can be shut off once they arrive. Unfortunately for Dan, Joe and Parker, another group are making their way down the mountain and once they reach the resort the replacement attendant shuts down the lift leaving the trio stranded in their seat with the prospect of freezing to death or risking injury by leaping to the hard and distant snow below. With the resort only open at weekends the three friends are also faced with a week on the ski lift before being rescued!
The immediate problem with films like this is being set in one isolated location for the majority of the film. Though the initial build up to the trio’s ordeal is a bit slow most of the film does see them stuck on the ski lift. Not only must they contend with the bitter cold, the call of nature, frostbite and the onset of a fierce storm but the group have the unwanted attention of wolves circling the ground beneath sensing an opportunity. I thought the situation the trio find themselves in is quite a good idea but a major issue is with the three characters themselves. They are not particularly likable and, sadist you may call me, I found myself not caring whether they escaped their ordeal or not.
It’s hard to go into detail with this film without spoiling it. Let’s just say there are some unpleasant moments such as Parker finding her hand stuck to the safety bar of the ski lift chair and although she forces it free she leaves a chunk of skin behind! Joe attempts to reach a nearby chair close to the ground only to find the cable slices through his gloves and into his hands! Now, there seems to be something of a debate on the Internet about whether the cables for ski lifts are actually razor sharp. According to Frozen they are so our three friends can’t simply traverse the cable and get closer to the ground and ski to safety. I’ve never been skiing, let alone felt compelled to climb on a ski lift cable, so I’m unable to add my view on this debate but it does put something of a blemish on the film if they are not razor sharp. If you are squeamish you’ll probably want to skip this one as there are a couple of moments that will make you cringe. Let’s just say the trio have a torrid time during this film and could qualify for the unluckiest people who ever lived. I can only assume they did something terrible in a previous life.
I found Frozen frustrating because there was the potential for a great film here but the characters were of no interest whatsoever. Parker, especially, displayed a worrying degree of stupidity particularly at the end which made her eventual fate all the more surprising. This isn’t a bad film but when the final credits were rolling I couldn’t help but feel it could have been done a lot better.
A vast improvement on the awful Open Water, Frozen throws three friends into a plausible and horrific ordeal but what has the potential to be a great film fails badly with some unsympathetic characters and a few question marks against safety procedures at ski resorts. Surely they would have measures in place for this kind of mix-up should skiers become stranded. If you managed to get through Open Water then Frozen is probably worth a look but if you want survival stories in the snow that are actually good then look no further than Alive (1992) or Touching the Void.
Verdict: 5/10 (if that ski lift cable is razor sharp) 3/10 (if it isn’t because it’s just ludicrous)
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