This premise is one that makes Frozen immediately identifiable as a high concept film. The premise could really be simplified into one line, ‘Three people trapped on a chairlift for five days.’ This is not in anyway a criticism as many wonderful films are high concept and one of writer/director Adam Green’s influences is one of the most praised high concept films of all time, Jaws. The success of a high concept film often rests simply on fulfilling the expectation of the high concept in question and thereby satisfying the audience. Successful films are both entertaining and well executed. What is perhaps most surprising about Frozen is that although it does deliver on the high concept premise, Green takes the film further and succeeds in creating a well rounded, intelligent and suspenseful thriller.
The suspense/horror/thriller aspects of the film promised by the premise are wonderfully executed with incredibly taut scenes in which the characters begin to suffer the effects of the cold and being stranded for so long. By pacing the film with a script full of peaks and troughs and with excellent editing that allows the scenes room to breathe the film never becomes an out of control rollercoaster as many thrillers do. The film is also much more suspenseful because of this. There are moments when the film is slow but never in a negative way and the build up of threat that continues through these scenes makes the more fast paced sequences even more impactful.
The slower paced scenes also provide something that is incredibly significant to the success of Frozen and make for a film that is so thoroughly engaging and rewarding a viewing experience. These scenes develop the characters and Green gives each of them character arcs with subtlety (although a few moments are admittedly a tad clumsy) and very naturalistic dialogue. There are a few cliches and stupid things said but people are imperfect and often say stupid things and repeat cliches, this makes the characters more human and down to earth, not unrealistic heroes. The imperfections are at times what helps the characters be more believable and easy to relate to. This is also followed through in their actions. One can of course sit in a comfy warm cinema and pontificate at length about what the characters should be doing in the situation they are in but the reality is that their actions are those of imperfect people pushed to their limits.
The actors are also mostly spot on throughout with Shawn Ashmore as Lynch and Emma Bell as Parker providing nuanced and affecting performances. Kevin Zegers is perhaps the only weak link, at times coming across a little hammy, but he does at times convey added dimension to the relationship between him and Parker well. The dynamic between the three seems very authentic and Green’s writing is instrumental in this. The aforementioned dialogue is clearly drawn from Green’s personal life and it is no coincidence that the goofy friend is named after Green’s directing friend Joe Lynch and the dynamic between the two friends, Dan and Lynch, feels more real because Green is most likely drawing on personal experience.
In Frozen Green has made an expertly crafted film and one that will ensure audiences are squirming in their seats during the agonizing moments and genuinely engaged and effected by the more emotional beats. Shot on location the film is quite an achievement in terms of production and Green’s direction here transcends anything he has previously done. Making great use of the 2:35:1 ratio in both the more scenic shots and the closer intimate framing Frozen is a also a pleasure to watch on a purely technical level. Frozen may well be remembered by many as that ‘stuck on a chairlift’ film but there is far more depth and artistry here than you may be expecting.
Frozen is released theatrically in the UK on the 24th of September and on DVD and Blu-ray on the 18th of October.
Check out the official UK trailer embedded below. Be aware though that there are a few minor spoilers contained within.
Poster Source: Kevin Tong for MondoTees