I was incredibly excited for this, and given the nearly unanimous rave reviews, more than hopeful. Director Adam Green's previous picture, Hatchet - with its tagline "Old School American Horror" - split critics and fanboys down the middle. Some claimed it was derivative, or didn't go far enough, others that it was the antidote to the anemic offerings in the genre as of late. Neither extreme really struck a chord with me, and I found myself in the middle - while I enjoyed the film, and did find it a bit of a return of the real, I still thought it held back, shied away from the obvious leapfrogging to the next level, and while it was a bit redundant, it was still an enjoyable, entertaining throwback. I thought that Green's next film would provide that important step. While Frozen does make some strides towards maturity, it also is a frustrating watch for many of the same reasons as Hatchet. Decent enough characters, but kinda MOR suspense, and while there are a few gruesome scenes, for the most part this festival darling is ice cold.
The setup is that three friends go on a Sunday ski trip and, after bribing the chair-lift operator so that they can get in one more run as night quickly descends, a chain of events has the trio stranded halfway up the mountain in the cable car, the resort shutting down for the week (it's off-season, so they can't afford to remain operational all week, and are only open Fri.-Sun.). As the reality sets in that they are facing the prospect of being stuck on a ski-lift for a week, the snow begins to fall (of course it does!).
What follows is a confused muddle of events that can only be attributed to panicked and frozen minds. Why else would you leap 50 or 60 feet to the ground below before trying to climb across the wire above to the support tower handily equipped with a ladder (which one of the characters does, only two days later)? Add to this that the mountain setting just didn't seem very suspense-filled. When you can see trees, and peaks, and a FREAKIN' POLE WITH A LADDER ON IT 30 FEET AWAY, things don't seem so bad as being left behind in the middle of the ocean.
Yes, the comparisons to Open Water are inescapable, and while there are surface similarities, Frozen just never got going, and you can't sustain tension when you haven't really built any in the first place. To be fair, Open Water couldn't do so either, but when you have a 90 minute film about two people in the middle of the ocean, it better be either hella philosophical or have 60 minutes cut from its running time. Open Water was inherently more scarifying (to me, at least) because of its setting. I don't like open water. Maybe my problem is that I've never been skiing? I dunno... Green is already filming Hatchet 2, so that should be the decisive film one way or another with regards to whether or not Green is a director to watch, or one to toss on the scrapheap of horror hackery... Rad hand drawn poster I found for Frozen at Mondo Tees though: