Published Feb 04, 2010A relatively under-serviced genre, snowboarding/skiing movies tend toward highbrow prestige pictures like Hot Dog... The Movie, Ski School and Dead Snow. Frozen eschews the scantily clad ski bunnies, evil developers and Nazi zombies found in the aforementioned classics, instead creating a taut, suspenseful and, most importantly, realistic thriller out of a simple premise.
Clean-cut good guy Dan (Kevin Zegers), his ladies' man of a best friend, Lynch (Shawn Ashmore), and his pure-of-heart girlfriend, Parker (Emma Bell), set off for a day on the slopes at a second-rate ski resort. On the last run of the outing, a plausible, if improbable, mix-up sees the trio suspended on a ski lift facing freezing conditions, an impending storm and a pack of wolves. With the resort closed for five days, the leads are entirely forsaken.
The setup recalls Open Water and the film could be as long and as boring a slog. However, writer/director Adam Green keeps the pacing brisk, constantly ratcheting up the tension while allowing for sporadic, tenuous moments of humour and repose. Furthermore, he and cinematographer Will Barratt do a fantastic job of utilizing a shifting landscape, weather changes, a variety of angles and a moving camera to create a diverse, occasionally beautiful, often terrifying, but always fresh aesthetic.
Given the framework, time plays a major factor, forcing actions and spurring debates. The amiable cast has little room to develop its characters, but the archetypes are common enough to spur empathy without relying too heavily on cliché.
Besides, the fun rests in the chillingly authentic dangers at play, not the familiar relationships. Frozen thrives on realism and it maintains it, to great, occasionally gory, effect throughout. You'll never again ski without a phone. (Anchor Bay)