Written/Directed by Adam Green
Starring Shawn Ashmore, Emma Bell, Kevin Zegers
Adam Green is someone we’ve praised on CineGeek before. His very 80’s style of filmmaking has led to some great films including Hatchet and Grace, which he produced. Frozen is his latest film to hit DVD and blu-ray and it also does not disappoint.
The best horror and suspense films are based on simple ideas and focused on character. Frozen is a near perfect example of such a film. In this film three friends spend the day skiing and they bride a lift operator for one last run. A simple miscommunication ends up leaving the three stuck on the chair lift alone at the highest point of the ride up the mountainside. At first they believe that they will be brought down soon but once it turns dark, and all of the lights go out at the resort, they realize that they are all alone on the lift until the mountain reopens the next weekend.
It’s a simple story that could have ended up being a bore but Green’s character development, precise pacing, and simple yet effective use of visuals and sound make the film absolutely riveting. This entire film sets on the backs of the three characters though. It doesn’t matter how good a job Green did as a director if his actors could carry the film. Emma Bell (The Walking Dead, Final Destination) is the star in this film bringing on some of the most powerful emotion of any film I saw in theaters last year when I first saw this film and I feel the same upon second viewing. Her pain feels real and it makes the film appropriately torturous. Shawn Ashmore (X-Men, The Ruins) and Kevin Zegers (Dawn of the Dead 2004, Wrong Turn) are both also great in this film with points going to Ashmore.
The smartest thing that Green did with this script was to humanize the characters with conversation and concern that feels real, from one character trying to stay sane by remembering a phone number to another’s worry about a pet. The more earthy relatable the characters get the tougher the film becomes to watch. Just when it seems that things can’t get any worse for the trio they truly do and even worse is that t6here isn’t a bad guy to hate in the film. Frozen is a true tragedy on a small scale, involving only three characters.
Frozen is Adam Green’s most mature writing and best directing to date. Hatchet is good fun but this film really sticks with you in a way that most directors’ working in his genre at his level would dream for their films to do. The gore FX are subdued and as realistic as the characters making them all the more effective. Frozen is one of the hardest films I’ve had to watch in a long time and I mean that as a compliment. It’s not often that I can’t find some fault in a film and this is one of those times.
The visuals of Frozen are extremely important to the story. You need to be able to see the background detail, the trees, the snow, the distance the characters are from the ground. It all shows through brilliantly on the blu-ray. A majority of the movie happens at night so the DVD version probably doesn’t show the detail that this HD version does. Skin tones, black levels, and contrast are all also spot on. Toward the film’s climax the blacks are crushed and the color is shifted just a bit and this was done on purpose to help build suspense. It looked great in the theater and looks just as good here. There are just a few instances where the transfer attempts to bring a few scenes into better focus which causes some edge enhancement but this is a really minor complaint to an overall great presentation. Frozen was shot on a budget so it’s not full of eye candy that really shows off the HD format. The format however does help tell the story which is something that doesn’t happen too often.
The film is presented here in a DTS HD Master audio mix and it sounds great for the most part. The film starts out with tons of loudly mixed ambient noise making the surroundings feel crowded and busy creating a great contrast to the overwhelming quiet of the list later in the film when there are only the three characters on a lonely lift in the middle of the night. Dialogue, score, and sound FX are crisp and clean throughout the film but there were a few instances where I did have to ride the volume just a little. There’s nothing spectacular about the audio presentation but it is effective and that’s what counts.
The Packaging and Bonus features
Thank you anchor Bay for giving up the goods on bonus features here. This film deserves the royal treatment and it nearly does.
Writer/director Adam green hosts two feature length audio commentaries. The first one is with the three lead actors where they focus on the acting and that part of the production and all of the hardships involved. The second one is a more technical one with Green, the director of photography and the editor discussing the technical aspects of the film. There’s a lot of really good behind the scenes information in both commentaries about the making of the film. Many of these people have worked together before and their camaraderie runs throughout the commentaries.
There are four featurettes that total almost 90 minutes and play better as one long feature documentary. The featurettes cover literally every aspect of crafting Frozen from the original concept and writing to casting, production and post production. The cast and crew add something to these featurettes including some coincidences to weird to be ignored. There’s also some great behind the scenes fly on the wall footage during the featurettes. Watching Emma Bell shoot one of her most emotional scenes really makes you feel bad for her as she has a little trouble calming down once “cut” gets called. There’s great depth to this coverage even if some of the information is a little redundant to the commentaries.
There are some deleted scenes with commentary. The best of these is a really gory scene that was never meant to be in the film all the way back to the original screenplay but Green was asked to film it for international distribution of the film. Finally there’s a trailer and brief creepy story about the particular lift where the film was shot.
These are all engrossing features that do a great job of enhancing your overall appreciation of the film, great stuff.
Frozen is one of the best films I’ve seen at any budget or level of distribution in years.
Overall (Not an average) 9/10
The Movie 10/10
The Video 8.5/10
The Audio 8/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 8/10
Overall (Not an Average) 9/10