Wednesday, October 6, 2010

DVD Review: Frozen (2009)

FROZEN (2009)

“No One Knows You’re Up There”
Anchor Bay Entertainment

DIRECTOR: Adam Green
CAST: Emmie Bell (Parker O’Neil), Shawn Ashmore (Joe Lynch), Kevin Zegers (Dan Walker), Ed Acherman (Jason), Kane Hodder (Cody), Adam Johnson (Rifkin)

SUMMARY: Three friends decide to take one last run down the ski slope of Mount Holliston, New England. Halfway up the mountain their chair lift stops, the lights go out, and the resort closes for a week. They are forgotten on the icy mountain top and left stranded fifty feet in the air, but the worst is still to come. A storm is approaching, frostbite is setting in, and on the ground below them a pack of hungry wolves has gathered …to feed.

FILM: It’s been an Adam Green kind of week here at the Mausoleum folks. This passed weekend I took in a viewing of Green’s brutal gore fest HATCHET 2 on the big screen, just before AMC Theatres unceremoniously yanked the unrated film the following Monday. That travesty aside, I’m here writing about Green’s latest DVD the survival thriller FROZEN (2009), a man vs. nature thriller that takes a premise we’ve seen previously in OPEN WATER (2004) or THE RUINS (2008) and places our forgotten victims not in the open water or on an ancient temple but on a ski lift 50ft. in the air on a subzero mountaintop surrounded by wolves.

 We spend the first thirty minutes of the film getting to know our threesome. Lynch and Dan are best friends since childhood. They make an annual trip to Mt. Holliston to escape the stress of their lives. This year’s trip is being spoiled somewhat by the fact that Dan brought his girlfriend Parker. Don’t you hate it when you begin losing your best buds to relationships? It happens, and it’s a difficult transition. You know Lynch is a bit perturbed that Emmie is tagging along, she’s a shit snowboarder and they just can’t get any decent runs with her falling on her ass every 5 minutes. He’s dropping snide comments here and there, but it’s hard not to like her, she’s actually a cool girl. Towards the end of the day they decide to make one last run down the slope but the resort is closing early due to incoming weather. Emmie uses her not insubstantial feminine charm and $100 to get the lift operator to let them up one more time. It proves to be a fateful decision for the three. Halfway up the mountain when the lift comes to a stops they assume it will start back up in a few minutes,  that is until the lights along the ski runs start turning off and the valley turns dark below them. When they can no longer deny they're in danger this is when the fear and panic set in.They’re arguing, fighting off the cold, freaking out, desperately trying to figure out what to do. They cannot believe this is happening. What can you do? I kept thinking to myself that realistically there’s little you can do, it’s stressing to think about. The cold is setting in, the weather turns and signs of frostbite are apparent. One of them decides that they must jump from the lift to the ground. It’s 50 feet in air, but what other choices are there?  Let's just say that it doesn't go well for that individual. As the night turns to day and the tragedy plays out the film lags a bit, the the build-up loses a bit of steam as we get all talky, but what else can you do stranded on a lift, right. Don't expect a happy ending, this is a bleak affair, when man is pitted against nature man rarely wins. Frozen is about the desperate struggle for survival in the face of insurmountable odds and the lengths we go to hold onto to life.

 The acting is top notch from all the actors, the dialogue rang true and didn't feel contrived, as did their actions. There are only so many options in this situation, so there were few other choices to be made when the alternative is freezing to death. I enjoyed the cinematography and camera work in the film, it captured the desperate drama of the situation, helped by the fact the film was shot on an actual ski lift fifty feet off the ground on a freezing mountaintop, sounds like a miserable shoot. You really feel the cold come through, very well done.

DVD: Frozen is presented in it’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen with a blustery 5.1 surround sound that really puts you up there on that chairlift, good sound design. The film benefits from the panoramic scope lensing that captures the chilling beauty of the mountains. The special features include a commentary, several cool featurettes, a few non-essential deleted scenes and a trailer.

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Adam Green and Actors Shawn Ashmore, Kevin Zegers, & Emma bell
• Catching Frostbite: The Origins of FROZEN
• Three Below Zero
• Shooting Through It
• Beating the Mountain: Surviving FROZEN
• Deleted Scenes
• Trailer

VERDICT: Director Adam Green has a sweet filmography under his belt thus far. He’s tackled brutal slashers with the HATCHET series, the psycho-thriller SPIRAL and now an intense nail-biter with FROZEN. I highly recommend Frozen, cinematically I think it's Green's most accomplished work, and is one of the years most tense thrillers.
**** (4 out of 5 stars)