On his commentary for the new “Hatchet” Blu-ray, writer/director Adam Green notes that he doesn’t want to be typecast as just a horror guy, so he wanted to do something else before “Hatchet II.” That something else is the thriller “Frozen,” and well, mission accomplished, my friend.
“Frozen” operates on the same “people in peril in one location” level that dates back to Alfred Hitchcock’s “Lifeboat” and continues to more modern-day efforts as 2003’s “Open Water” or the upcoming “Buried.” Three college students — couple Dan and Parker (Kevin Zegers and Emma Bell) and third wheel Joe (Shawn Ashmore) — are living it up for a weekend of skiing. For the most part, they’re having a blast, but they’d like to get one more run in before the hills shut down “ not just for the night, but for the week.
One grievous misunderstanding later, the trio finds itself stuck in the air when the lift suddenly stops. A few minutes later, when all the safety lights go out, the harsh reality that they could very well die sets in. Panic breeds quickly, especially in below-freezing temperatures and with wolves darting below them, baring teeth as if awaiting a meal, which they most certainly are.
Pay no attention to the words “horror” and “terror” that are plastered all over the box. That’s to appeal to Green’s already sizable, built-in fan base. This is not a scary movie. It is, however, a highly suspenseful one, perfectly enjoyable by the non-horror viewer (that’d be my wife), although a few effects shots are realistic enough to make fraidy cats cringe.
It’s nice to see Green deliver a well-paced, beautifully shot film that delivers on a minimal budget, and all without “Hatchet”‘s overuse of gratuitous nudity and F-bombs. “Frozen” represents a big step up for him as a filmmaker. I can’t believe something this nerve-wracking never got the proper theatrical release it deserved. It’s worth one. —Rod Lott