Monday, March 1, 2010

"Frozen" chills you to the bone


Frozen (2010)
93 min., rated R.
Grade: B

Talk about a cool hook: A college couple (Kevin Zegers, Emma Bell) and a third-wheel buddy (Shawn Ashmore) on a weekend ski trip don't have ski passes so they pay off the lift employee. What's the worst that could happen, right? Then the chair lift shuts down with them on it for one more slope run, 100 feet up above the ground, and to make matters worse, it's Sunday night, the resort is closed until Friday, and they don't have cell phones (even though dim kids their age don't leave home without it). So whether it's freezing into human popsicles, or breaking their legs in an attempt to jump, or getting attacked by a pack of wolves, the three are screwed. 

"Frozen" is a tense, pared-down cautionary yarn; it's another one of those confined-setting, “what would you do” palm-sweaters like "Open Water," only now it'd be “Open Snow.” Writer-director Adam Green ("Hatchet") sustains his slight premise for its brisk 93 minutes; the dialogue he gives his actors runs the gamut from authentic to forced, and of course sometimes the characters do things that one would never do in the bitter cold temperatures. And the characters aren't too complex, but the performers do a plausible job with the panicky bickering and sorrow that ensues in this situation. 

Green works best behind the camera, giving us inventive angles that make us sweat bullets for these three people. There are also brutal, bone-crunching gross-out moments, helped by effective sound design and make-up. Flawed if you can't suspend some disbelief but mostly suspenseful, "Frozen" delivers a skier's worst nightmare. 

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