DVD Review: Alternatingly suspenseful and dull, Frozen is stuck somewhere between an intriguing concept unevenly executed and an entertaining pants-load of implausibility.
These are good days if you happen to be stuck in a coffin (Buried), a crevice (127 Hours), an elevator (Devil), a creepy old mansion (House of the Devil), a bungee-corded port-o-potty (Jackass 3D) or, in the case of Frozen, a New England ski-resort’s chairlift.
Each of these films functions as a useful “Do’s and Don’t” primer. Don’t run down your cell phone batteries, don’t drink your own urine, don’t fall asleep with your bare hand on an icy metal bar. Do carry with you at all times a crowbar, a rope ladder, five sticks of dynamite, and a bone saw.
(Hopefully in 2011 we can look forward to more tense thrillers about people trapped in deserted, isolated places such as a broom closet, a lighthouse, or a Spin Doctors reunion concert.)
In Frozen three uninteresting-at-best, unlikable-at-worst characters (a guy, his girlfriend, and his long-time pal) get trapped overnight on a ski-lift chair dozens of yards above the ground– just far enough down to be very scary, but not so far that jumping isn’t an impossibility.
The movie’s Open Water-y premise is far-fetched–Frozen has to serve up half a dozen contrivances to get these dolts stuck up there. But it simultaneously strikes a familiar chord of fear in anyone who skis or snowboards. When unexpectedly stopped high in the air on a lift chair, who hasn’t wondered what would happen if you had to crawl down… or jump?
Writer-director Adam Green (Hatchet I & II) trots out every trick he can to wrap some dread and suspense around this Chair Lift of Doom. For those of you wondering what could possibly happen to fill an 80-minute thriller about a stuck ski lift, Green has one big terror trump card to play… repeatedly: [INVISO-TEXT SPOILER ALERT!] Wolves! [END SPOILER ALERT]
The problem is that for Frozen to work as more than a gimmick, we have to eventually care about these three young characters and their fate. So Green writes out a lot of sharing and bonding scenes, as The Trapped talk about their fears and childhoods and hopes and dreams. ([SPOILER AGAIN!] “Hi, my name is Locke, and my life’s dream is to not be eaten alive by wolves.” [END SPOILER])
Unfortunately the three actors–Emma Bell, Kevin Zegers, and Shawn Ashmore (The X-Men movies)–aren’t engaging or sympathetic enough for us to emotionally invest in, no matter how much they share about their favorite breakfast cereals or the members of the opposite sex who broke their widdle hearts.
But Shakespeare fans take note: Frozen offers us a rare opportunity to shout out the paraphrase, [LAST SPOILER ALERT, I PROMISE] “Exit, pursued by wolves.” [END OF LAST SPOILER]
More trapped tales of suspense from redbox:
- Triangle (read my full review)
- Armored (read more in my Picks)
- Wind Chill (read more in my Picks)
- The Human Centipede (read my full review)
- Open House
- Burning Bright (read more in my Picks)
- The Graves (read more in my Picks)
- The Descent 2 (read more in my Picks)
- Nine Dead
- The Collector
- The House of the Devil on DVD and Blu-ray (read my full review)