Frozen is a chilling suspense about a group of friends who get stuck on a ski lift in the face of snowstorm with nobody knowing that they’re there. I know, I know, in the wake of 127 hours and countless survival stories, Frozen, a film which premiered in the Sundance Festival last year, would seem commonplace, but that’s where viewers will be wrong. This film brought chills down my spine the whole time I was watching it. I was literally at the edge of my seat. No kidding.
The film stars Shawn Ashmore (X-men) as Lynch, and Zac Effron lookalike Kevin Zegers as Dan (It’s a Boy Girl Thing, Gossip Girl) as two best friends who go on their traditional weekend getaway to a New England ski resort with Dan’s girlfriend Parker (Emma Bell) tagging along. Lynch, who was hoping for some guy time with his best friend, asks for one final run on the slopes, because novice snowboarder Parker cramped his style the whole day. Dan, who wanted Lynch to stop shooting his mouth against Parker, agrees. Parker joins them for the ride and begs the ski lift operator they bribed earlier to let them get the final ride on the chairs. The operator concedes but gets called away, leaving another operator in his stead while the three were still on the lift. The substitute operator mistakes three snowboarders to be the last on the slopes and shuts down for the week, leaving the three stranded until the next weekend when the resort opens again.
What hooked me to the movie from the get go was its subtlety. Of course, one would guess that they’re not all going to survive. I was expecting death by frostbite and injuries but the carnage that followed was so gruesome that even a hard core horror fan like me had trouble processing it. They were stuck high up on the lift with packs of wolves awaiting their descent and with no hope for rescue in the next five days. There were times during the beginning of the predicament that were unintentionally funny, like when Dan jumped bravely off the lift to get help and injures himself severely in the process, and screamed like a wus when he realizes the severity of his injuries. But the subsequent scenes when he faced the inevitable and thought of Parker instead of himself was heartwrenching. His screams alone were terrifying and leaves little to the imagination.
The film was generally muted and filled only with snippets of conversations that make the viewers understand the characters more. The lengthy pauses, which should have bored audiences to death, were actually quite genius because it gave the viewers a chance to process and absorb the severity of the situation. There were not a lot of attempts to escape, as survivors grapple with the anguish of losing someone close to their hearts, and at the same time assess what what was left for them to do. With each attempt to get closer to safety, viewers could feel each sting as the cable blades dig into their flesh. As frostbite sets in, audiences will feel like its their skin being torn off. As they stay still, audiences will be thinking along with them… what to do? what to do? But what is heartbreaking, really, is that the attempts which they have emotionally invested into, are actually just set ups for more agony. When the movie was screened in Sundance, it was reported that a lot of the audiences fainted because they could not stand the tension of the film. I couldn’t blame them. I was a bit sleepy coming into the film but the moment they were up on the lifts, my heart already started pumping wildly. I do not scare easily but my personal experience with a similar lift (Sentosa Skyride) last year was horrible. I could just imagine how that would be with snow.
All in all, writer/director Adam Green managed to come up with one the best horror films of the past few years. There is something to be said of subtlety. And this film is proof that not everything needs to be in 3D.