The great thing about horror is that there’s a fear that resonates with everyone. Jaws famously cleared the beaches by brilliantly capitalizing on both fear of sharks, and to an equal extent, the fear of open water.
Frozen looks at that element in its solid form and offers as unique a premise as any we’ve ever seen in a horror film: protagonists stuck on a ski resort’s chairlift.
This reviewer’s a lousy skier, but from ice-bitten experience in both Canada and the Swiss Alps, chairlifts are an undoubtedly frightening part of the skiing experience, second only to the view from the summit when your ski skills stink and things could go downhill real fast. Forget 007 in The Spy Who Loved Me. More like, a guy with a License to Kill Himself because he can only snowplow much of the way down…
Horror wouldn’t be horror if people didn’t find themselves isolated from help, regardless of the environs.
In Frozen, Dan, girlfriend Parker and Dan’s best mate Joe are on vacation and Joe’s the obvious third wheel. Parker’s a newbie who is preventing the guys from tackling the more formidable Black Diamond-style runs. With the resort set to close, the trio cajoles the attendant into one last after-hours ride.
When the electric motor groans to a halt, they’re left suspended up in the mountains by that one lone steel cable, as most of the staff has headed home for the night. Frozen ratchets up the terror ante by making them face two more fears other than what the title implies, each unsettling enough in its own right: heights and wild animals.
We could’ve done without the pack of wolves prowling below, regardless of whether they’re indigenous to New England, as some wags have pointed out in the negative.
As is the case for most survivalist movies, the viewers are teased with a potential rescue – here a groomer out to maintain the trails – who doesn’t see them and returns to the chalet and packs up for the night.
Much like the superior Open Water, it’s a tragic mistake that leaves the protagonists high if not particularly dry.
It’s hard to place oneself in a survivalist situation, but as Canadians hardwired for the white stuff, there are certain cold weather precautions the kids could’ve taken: 1) Tucking their legs under their haunches to conserve heat, rather than dangling them off the edge of the chair and 2) buttoning up their hoods to cover more of their faces (they likely could’ve also started a small fire, as one of them had their cigarettes and a lighter). Also, the conceit of having the resort closed for an extended period given the powder and awesome ski conditions seems inappropriate.
Still, we can’t just ice Frozen. There are genuine scares, good performances, and it’ll be something to think about (other than simply plummeting to your possible demise) next time you’re tackling the slopes and making that windy ascent.
*** (out of 5)