In some circles, "Frozen" is being compared to last year's surprise hit "Paranormal Activity." Both are low-budget, lo-fi, indie frightfests in which actors you've never heard of are placed in claustrophobic jeopardy.
Yet, whereas "Paranormal Activity" pulsated with the
dread of the supernatural, "Frozen's" fears are rooted in the seemingly
mundane reality of nature inexorably taking its course. In that sense,
the intermittently suspenseful "Frozen" is closer in spirit to the
terrifyingly haunting 2003 film "Open Water" (a couple marooned in the
middle of the ocean) and the far less successful
stuck-in-the-middle-of-nowhere movie from last year, "The Canyon" (a
couple marooned at the bottom of the
But in "Frozen," instead of the sea or the desert, it's the mountains. A twentysomething couple and a best friend are stranded in sub-freezing temperatures in a ski lift — with no cell phones, at closing time on a Sunday, with bad weather moving in. And the weekends-only resort won't open again for five more days.
Until that point, jocular Dan (
But those relationships are tested when the three of them realize that they might die together suspended high above a snowy wilderness. At its best, "Frozen" taps into the fear of heights and isolation, of the mounting anxiety that comes with knowing that death will be slow and painful.
Yet "Frozen" doesn't ratchet up the tension in the
way that "Open Water" does. The acting isn't always convincing and
Still, the threesome's constant conversation amid the building unease help establish them as characters that the audience can identify. By the end, it's almost impossible not to get pulled into their plight.
Some might be disappointed that there's nothing high-tech here. It's basically three people, a mountain, the weather — oh, and a few wolves (who, by the way, are much better actors than their lupine brethren in "The Canyon." Just sayin'.).
And don't expect this indie-film obsession with
dying alone in an isolated spot to go away any time soon. One of the
most talked-about films to come out of Sundance this year is "Buried,"
3 stars (out of 5)
Running time: 93 min.
Rating: R (disturbing images, strong language)
(c) 2010, Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
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