Thursday, January 25, 2018

Frozen (2010)

Let it go... whoops, wrong Frozen
Most people, when they hear the title Frozen, no doubt think of the 2013 Disney movie (which I, at this point, still have not seen) but I'm one of the few who remembers hearing about this identically-titled flick long before that movie was even an idea. I can't pinpoint exactly when I heard of it but I'm pretty sure that it was due to my being part of this horror movie podcast for a while. Granted, I didn't formerly join that site's message board until late summer of 2009, which was when this movie had already been shot and was ready for release, but I can remember hearing a lot of talk about this movie on there, despite the fact that the two guys who hosted the podcast didn't think much of Adam Green, having absolutely despised Hatchet and also thinking he was a douchebag who had connections in the media that encouraged people to give his movie the pass. I'll be the first to admit that, when I myself saw Hatchet for the first time, I liked it; second time around, though, I didn't care for it nearly as much, as I thought the comedy was a bit too overt and silly. But regardless, the story of Frozen sounded like a really good plot for a thriller, and the hosts seemed to think the same as, when they finally saw it, they really liked it, which was shocking to both me and them. That said, though, I wouldn't end up seeing it myself until the summer of 2016, when I found the Blu-Ray for a pretty cheap price at McKay's, a very big used book and video store in Chattanooga that I often visit. That was long after I'd severed ties with that podcast (I've mentioned why before but, long story short, the two hosts, one of them in particular, began to come across as egotistical assholes who thought they were the ultimate experts on all things horror), which more or less died out eventually, and had stopped listening to all of the crap they said about Green and his films and yet, even then, I found myself being more than a little underwhelmed by it when I got around to watching it. Again, I thought the story was a simple but inspired idea, and I thought there were plenty of good elements to the film, like the performances, the truly wince-inducing makeup effects (just thinking about them makes me shiver), and the fact that it was all done for real, with no cheating via studios or blue screen work, but, for some reason, it didn't feel like it lived up to its absolute potential. I hadn't watched it again until just recently, when I popped it in two more times when I decided to do this review, and while I can say that I appreciated it more these last couple of times, it just feels like it could have been so much more, and yet, I can't truly put my finger on why, which is going to make this something of a challenge to explain.

It's a cold, snowy Sunday afternoon and best friends Joe Lynch and Dan Walker, along with Dan's girlfriend, Parker O'Neil, are spending it at Mount Holliston, a New England ski resort and a tradition for the two childhood buddies. After convincing Parker to use her feminine wiles to bribe the ski lift attendant to let them ride without paying full price for three tickets, they spend the entire day on the bunny slope, as Parker cannot snowboard at all. Despite his insisting to the contrary, Joe is clearly not exactly thrilled with Parker tagging along on what's supposed to be their thing and is rather annoyed at having been unable to go down an actual slope because of her lack of skill. They decide to go on one last run before they head home, only to learn that the resort is closing early because of an oncoming storm. With Parker's help, they're able to convince the lift attendant, who's the same man from before, to let them go on one more run before he shuts the lift down, promising that they'll come down as quick as they can. On their way up, the attendant is called away to deal with a personal issue and leaves another man to operate the lift in his place, telling him that there are three more skiers on the way down. However, when another set of three that he didn't know about comes down, the attendant assumes that everyone is off the mountain and shuts the lift down before the resort closes completely, leaving Joe, Dan, and Parker stranded in their chair, swaying in the frigid air high above the ground. Panic and terror slowly but surely set in, as the three friends realize that they've been forgotten on the frozen mountaintop, and with the resort staying close for another week, no help coming, and the elements piling up, they must do what they can to get off the lift and make it to safety.

Adam Green, for me, is one of those young horror directors who came up in the 2000's (I guess you could call them the "horror punks") whose style does have a certain appeal but not to me. This is the only movie of his that I've seen aside from the first Hatchet and, judging from this, I do think he has more talent that somebody like Eli Roth, as Frozen proves that he is able to make movies that aren't as overtly stupid and sophomoric as Roth's and which do have characters who, if nothing else, are decent. But, regardless, his directing and writing style still doesn't quite do it for me. I don't know if it's because I'm moving out of the age bracket of the characters in his movies and am no longer in school of any kind, making them hard for me to relate to now, or what, but they're not all that compelling to me. I can't deny that the movie is very well-made and Green, again, seems to have more talent than some of his peers, especially when he really applies himself, also seems like a fairly nice guy who loves to bring his friends in to his movies, but the end result doesn't gel with me. That said, though, I was originally going to mention how Green seems like someone who doesn't deal with criticism well, as he got really irritated with some of the nitpicks reviewers threw at the movie, but when I look at some of those criticisms, I can really understand his irritation, as they were just plain ridiculous. I especially couldn't believe the one reviewer who said that the wolves that appear in the movie were bad CGI, despite the fact that they're clearly as real as they can get (moreover, if he thought they were CGI, he should've been complimenting them for how real they look). Green also didn't take his frustrations towards those reviews to the childish extremes I've seen other directors do (i.e. Nick Palumbo or Uwe Boll), so there's that as well.

Speaking of reviews, I really can't comprehend those that charged the acting with being bad, especially Peter Debruge, who wrote in Variety, "Don’t be surprised if the movie’s most wince-inducing moments come not from the 'disturbing images'... but rather of the bad acting and worse dialogue." It makes me wonder if he and I saw the same movie because, despite any misgivings I may have about the movie, what I don't have a problem with at all are the actors and their performances. The three of them all come across as very likable, average college students, who are spending a fun-filled afternoon at the ski resort before they have to go back to dealing with the pressures of their everyday lives. They do something that's a tad bit devious in having Parker sweet-talk the ski lift attendant into letting them on so they don't have to pay full price for tickets, and they don't seem to understand or care about the guy's frustrations with them, especially when they show up again later that night to go on one last run, ignoring his telling them that they're closing the resort early because of oncoming bad weather, but it's one small part of the story and doesn't automatically make them people that you want to see die. When the mix-up happens that leaves them stranded on the ski lift, and as their initial frustration turns to panic and terror at the thought of being completely stuck up there for a week, it's hard not to feel compassion and sympathy for them, especially as the story goes on and they're put through the most horrific tragedies imaginable. That's where these young actors really shine, as they are truly able to sell the fact that they're in pain, discomfort, and emotional torment, like when Dan makes the mistake of jumping off the lift and breaks both legs, when Parker and Joe have to listen him being eaten alive by the wolves right below them, and Joe has a massive breakdown towards Parker when he feels she's trying to blame him for what happened and that it should have been him. Those instances alone make me wonder what movie Debruge was watching when he said that the acting and writing in this movie sucks.

What really helps the performances is the fact that Dan and Joe are played by two real-life friends, Kevin Zegers and Shawn Ashmore. From the start, with the way they're talking and jabbing at each other, it's clear that these two have been buddies for a very, very long time and really enjoy spending time with each other. Dan comes across as a rather confident guy, one who can talk his girlfriend into doing just about anything for him, while Joe is more of a laid back kind of jokester, one who's fairly popular with the ladies, even though he hasn't had a relationship himself in a long time. Speaking of which, things have become more complicated lately now that Dan has a girlfriend. Joe, as much as he claims otherwise, clearly isn't thrilled with her being around all the time, as they haven't been able to have guy-time that much lately, and it doesn't help that going to Mount Holliston used to be their special thing. He shows his displeasure in some passive-aggressive jabs at Parker, particularly towards her habit of smoking and her inability to snowboard very well, forcing them to spend the whole day on the bunny slope. Dan, meanwhile, is clearly caught in a very uncomfortable position in the middle, as he loves Parker and wants to be with her, but he does feel some guilt over Joe's feeling like a third wheel over their being together, despite the fact that Joe insisted she come with them to the mountain. As a result, the two of them come up with the idea for one more run down the mountain (an actual run, not on the bunny slope), before they start heading back, and their talking the lift attendant into letting them on when he should be shutting everything down, ignoring what he says about bad weather that's on the way, leads to their doom. When they're stuck on the ski lift, Dan's calm and confident demeanor quickly starts to crack, as he becomes panicky and snaps at Parker when she becomes hysterical herself and at Joe when he continues to kind of poke at her. He gets the rash idea to jump early on but when a snowcat driver, which was essentially their only chance of rescue, misses seeing them due to circumstance, he feels he has no choice but to make the jump and go for help. That proves to be a really bad idea, as he breaks both his legs, is in horrific pain as he sits down there in the cold, trying to bind his wounds, and is ultimately ripped apart by wolves, his last words to Joe being not to let Parker see it.

Joe has a truly emotional breakdown right after Dan's death, as he becomes distraught and furious when Parker initially asks why he did nothing to stop Dan from jumping, saying that she didn't do anything stop him either, and lets out all his frustration and anger towards her: "Don't you fucking blame me. You've been his girlfriend for what? A year? Maybe? I've known him my entire fucking life." She then makes the mistake of muttering, "You should've..." and Joe really goes off, growling, "That's okay, I get it. I get it. It should've been me down there, right? 'Cause who gives a fuck about me? You know what? If we hadn't spent the entire day on the fucking bunny hill, watching you fall on your ass, we would've done some runs and we could've gone home... Maybe if you hadn't fucked with our thing! Maybe if you just had to stay home, and not try to force yourself into every little aspect of his life, my best friend wouldn't be dead right now!" This causes Parker to break down and cry, saying that what he said isn't fair, and Joe says, "It's not fair that my best friend is dead. He's not coming back. He's gone... Fuck you!" However, once he's gotten it all out and she apologizes profusely for everything, Joe finally comes to his senses and tells her that he didn't mean what he said. The next day, Joe decides to wait a little while to see if anybody will show up who can help them and, in the meantime, he opens up a little more to Parker about his life. He tells her about a relationship that he had back in his freshmen year of college, only for it to go completely sour when he discovered that the girl was cheating on him, and the first time he met Dan, which was when they were in first grade and they had to sit next to each other for a whole week because Dan was a chubby kid who couldn't stop crying for his mother. With that, Joe decides that he's not to let Dan's death be in vain and he decides to make another attempt at something he tried the night before: climb along the lift's cable and down the ladder on one of the poles. It takes a lot of effort and pain on his part but he makes it down and attempts to go for help, but he, unfortunately, falls victim to the same wolves that killed Dan. However, in climbing out of the chair and onto the cable, he causes the screw holding the chair in to loosen up, which ultimately leads to it falling down just far enough to where she can jump safely and eventually escape.

Despite Joe's description of Parker as being rather smothering and intrusive, Emma Bell's portrayal of her comes across as anything but. Despite her affection for Dan, Parker is clearly aware that she's kind of cutting in on his and Joe's time together, saying that she didn't have to come to Mount Holliston with them, since it is their thing, and she even offers to let the two of them go up on the last run by themselves. However, due to Joe's insisting that she come with them and Dan's refusing to let her stay behind at the lodge, Parker ends up continually being wedged between them, making her just as much of a casualty of the complicated "three's a crowd" dilemma as Joe when he's stuck as the third wheel. She's also depicted as being a tad more scrupulous than the guys when it comes to talking their way onto the ski lift so they don't have to pay full price for tickets, as she's very reluctant to do so. That mainly comes out of fear of personal embarrassment but it's clear she's also not comfortable with the whole idea itself and does feel bad for having tricked the ski lift operator when they're getting onto the chair. Of course, that doesn't stop her from using her feminine wiles again to get him to let them on for their last run, despite the fact that the resort is closing down early, and as we've seen, that ends up biting them very badly. It's hinted early in the film that Parker has a fear of heights, as she becomes quite tense when the lift gets snagged, leaving them up there for a little bit, but when they become stranded that night and the lights go out, it doesn't take long for her to begin to panic, especially when it becomes more and more clear that they've been completely forgotten. She whines and cries at the situation, which isn't helped by Joe's continued sort of poking at her, as well as her being hungry and needing to pee, but it's never to the point where she becomes annoying. The same goes for when she becomes absolutely hysterical after Dan jumps from the lift and breaks his legs, to the point where she almost jumps down after him, only to be stopped by Joe. She does what she can to help both Dan, throwing him her scarf so he can bind his wounds with it, only for it to get caught up in a nearby tree, and Joe when he attempts to find a way to climb down, but ultimately, neither of them are able to save Dan from the wolves, having to listen as they eat him alive. Again, this is where their acting is very, very strong, as she and Joe look at each other, Joe respecting Dan's last wish to not let her see him die, and the same goes for the moment afterward, where Parker unintentionally incurs Joe's wrath by inferring that she thinks he should've been the one to jump. Following the verbal lashing he gives her that makes her break into tears, she apologizes profusely for what she inferred and the two of them reconcile.

Even though she ends up being the only survivor of the ordeal, Parker hardly comes out unscathed physically, as she not only suffers from really bad frostbite on her face, which she tries very hard not to pick at, as Joe warns her, but, after she loses on of her gloves after they get stuck, she falls asleep with her bare hand on the safety bar and, in one of the film's most wince-inducing moments, she's forced to pull it off. After she listens to Joe tell her about what happened between him and his girlfriend in college, empathizing with what she did to him, and laughs at his recollection of how he and Dan met in first grade, she once again helps him to get up on the cable and, when he manages to get down to the ground, she throws him one of his ski poles so he can defend himself from the wolves. Joe takes off to go for help, telling her to stay there, but when the night passes and there's no sign of him, Parker decides to take what he said about Dan's death not being wasted to heart and attempts to climb down herself. Because of the loose screw that holds the chair to the cable, the chair ends up falling closer to the ground and she's able to get off it without hurting herself, although the chair falls on her legs, forcing her to crawl away. She comes across Joe's remains as the wolves eat what's left of him and, fortunately for her, they're so intent on their meal that they let her go and she's able to escape to the road, where she's picked up by a passing car and taken to the hospital. So, she's survived this horrifying ordeal but, as the motorist's reassurances that she's going to be okay turn into a memory of Dan's echoing voice telling her the same thing, it's obvious that she'll never be the same and that it will haunt her for the rest of her life.

As this movie is centered completely on these three characters, the other people who appear are mainly just here to fill up space and don't get much of any development. That said, though, some of them do manage to be quite vital to the story in some ways, as small as their parts are. Shannon (Rileah Vanderbilt), for instance, is a young woman whom Joe runs into at the lodge when he helps her with her skis and who takes an interest in him, especially after her jealous, clingy ex-boyfriend, Ryan (Chris York), shoves him to the ground while he's helping her. Before they head up on the ski lift, Shannon asks him if he'll be there the following weekend and when he says he probably will, she makes clear her intentions to meet up with him again. Unable to write down her number, she simply tells it to Joe, who continuously tries to remember it, and while it seems like little more than a gag to break the tension later on, it proves to be significant given what we later learn about Joe and his past experiences with girls. It's also no doubt another incentive for him to try to get off the mountain alive, even though that ends up not happening. Another significant character is Jason (Ed Ackerman), the ski lift operator who Parker sweet-talks into letting them ride the lift not once but twice. Even though he knows it could cost him his job, he allows her to bring her "girlfriends" with her onto the lift without paying full price, becoming rather annoyed when he sees that said girlfriends are a couple of guys, and later, as they're closing down the resort early, he tries to tell them why they're doing so when they're trying to talk him into letting them go up one more time. Really, he should've just stuck to his guns, told them that it wasn't his problem, and let it go, but once again, he falls for Parker's charms and lets them go, as they promise to come straight down. But, while they're on their way up, Jason is told by another employee, Rifkin (Adam Johnson), that he's going to have to work next weekend, even though he made it clear a month in advance that he wouldn't be able to because of his brother's wedding. Irritated, he leaves to take it up with his boss, telling Rifkin to fill in for him and that there are three on the way down. Unbeknownst to him, there are three skiers ahead of them who, when they come down, prompt Rifkin to tell them to shut the lift down so everyone can head home.

Kane Hodder, who'd worked with Adam Green before on Hatchet (as well as all of its sequels) and who was the stunt coordinator here, has a short but memorable role as a snowcat driver who's actually named Cody. In a sequence that would've made Alfred Hitchcock proud, the three leads think that they're saved when Cody comes in driving his snowcat but, just as he's about to get close enough to where he can see them, he's called back to base and puts the vehicle in reverse. They desperately try to get his attention by throwing stuff down in front of the snowcat but, as he's looking behind him as he backs up, he just barely misses seeing them, and he's unable to hear their cries due to the engine and the blizzard raging outside. After a moment where he stops and thinks, as if he did see something, he continues back down the mountain, leaving them alone again. (Speaking of Hatchet, Joel David Moore, who was the lead in that film, is the guy who radios Cody to head back.) Green himself, as well as his friend and fellow director, Joe Lynch, have cameos as the two guys behind the leads on the ski lift when it gets stuck for a little bit as they're riding it for the first time. Cody Blue Snider, the son of Dee Snider, who was also Green's assistant, can be seen standing in line at the resort's cafeteria, wearing a T-shirt advertising his dad's band, Twisted Sister; in fact, Snider himself is the guy who tells Rifkin that everybody is off the mountain, prompting him to shut the lift down (I forget exactly what the connection is between Green and Snider but I know they've been pretty tight for a long time). As you can see, it really is a family affair whenever Green makes a movie, as he not only brings in a lot of the same people who's worked with before and is friends with, but he also tends to name the characters after the people he knows, sometimes down to both their first and last names. That made it a little confusing typing about of all them but, like I said earlier, it shows that, if nothing else, Green is a guy who doesn't forget those important in his life.

In addition to good acting, it also doesn't hurt that Frozen is just simply a well-made movie, one that wasn't easy to pull off, given the conditions. This is where I really have to give Adam Green much deserved credit, as he decided not to cheat this thing and do it 100% real, something you rarely see filmmakers doing nowadays (he probably didn't have the money for elaborate green screen work or studios, anyway; I'm not sure what the budget was but it couldn't have been very big). The actors really are sitting up on that ski lift, fifty feet or more above the ground, in that frigid mountain air, with real ice and snow, and Green and his cinematographer are up there with them, which wasn't easy for Green because he has a severe fear of heights. I also appreciate the fact that, since his actors were stuck up there and couldn't go to the bathroom if they needed to, he decided that he wouldn't either, out of respect for them. Moreover, he brought in real wolves, another move that was very arduous and risky, considering how unpredictable they are, even with handlers. Granted, in most of the scenes involving the wolves, you either have stuntmen wrestling around with them or they brought in wolf-like dogs for scenes that do involve the actual actors, but there are moments, particularly in the lead-up to Dan getting mauled to death down below, where that really is Kevin Zegers sitting amongst the wolves (if you watch closely, you can see a moment where he starts to panic and looks off-camera for someone to help). Again, they could have very easily gone the cheap route and put in some awful-looking CGI wolves (I still can't believe that that one critic thought they were digital) but they decided to bring in real ones, which has to be applauded for sheer guts. And that's another thing: I don't think there's a single instance of digital work in the film. Not only did they not simulate the conditions or the wolves but they also used makeup effects for the injuries they sustain from the elements, which I always appreciate. More filmmakers really should take a lesson from what Green did, as the movie came out all the better for it.

One of Frozen's strongest technical aspects is its cinematography, courtesy of Will Barratt. The movie is very nice to look at, with plenty of beauty shots of the location during the daytime, showing the breathtaking, snow-covered, tree-lined mountains surrounding the area, which look especially beautiful in the bright sunlight, and even when it's overcast, as it often is, the surroundings have that nice, crisp winter feel that I think a lot of people find charming. The nighttime scenes are just as well-shot, having a surprisingly lovely, dark-bluish feel that, at the same time, doesn't fail to emphasize the deep cold and the darkness the characters have found themselves stuck in. In addition, Barratt and Adam Green show off a lot of skill in the way they shoot the actors on the chair, coming up with the best angles possible as they travel up the ski lift with them, shoot them from either very high above or down below to show how dangerously high up they are (those shots are especially harrowing when Joe tries to climb out onto the cable), and even pan completely around the chair in the scene where Joe and Parker have a genuine heart to heart the day after their first harrowing night. One of the film's best shots is when they're sitting up there and you can see lights on the lift behind them slowly going out one by one, leading up to them until they're swallowed by darkness and slowly realize what's happened. Another great one is a POV shot from Dan when he makes the mistake of jumping off the chair, which adds even more tension to the nasty impact he has when he hits the ground. And like I said, Green shows off some Hitchcockian skill involving the scene with the snowcat driver, Cody, as the camera is behind him in the vehicle as he backs up and as looking behind himself, we can see the objects the characters are throwing down in front of the snowcat, just out of his peripheral vision, in a vain attempt to get his attention. While I don't often talk about editing, there are some nice instances of that here too, like when you see shots of the ski lift beginning to operate in the opening, which is then repeated when you see it shutting down piece-by-piece in the buildup to their being stranded. I also do like how the sound gets muffled for a second after Dan hits the ground and how, at the very end, when Parker has made it to the road and is being taken to the hospital, the driver's voice telling her she's going to be okay morphs into Dan's telling her the same thing, which is something he said earlier, emphasizing how she'll be forever scarred by this experience.

The thing about this movie that got my attention from the very beginning is how simple and yet, at the same time, inspirational the idea of it is. Isolation is always a good thing to play on in either a horror film or a thriller, be it similarly-themed movies like The Shining or John Carpenter's The Thing, or those that cut off the characters even further by setting the story almost entirely in one room, such as Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window or Misery, and the idea behind Frozen definitely fits into that mold. What's more, the very concept of being stranded on a ski lift in the freezing cold is not only frightening but is also very plausible. Even though ski resorts have people who inspect all of the chair lifts before they shut the places down, sooner or later, human fallibility is going to come in and cause them to make a mistake like this. In fact, two weeks after Frozen was released to theaters in 2010, something like this did happen: a snowboarder got stuck on a ski lift in the Austrian Alps, was stranded up there for six hours, and ultimately had to burn some of the money he had with him in order to get someone's attention. That right there shows that all those people who've said something like this isn't possible in this day and age are very, very wrong, and again, it's a scary notion: you're stranded high up in the air, on a frozen mountaintop, you'll die or fatally injure yourself if you jump, slowly freeze to death, if starvation or dehydration doesn't get to you first, if you stay up there, and nobody is around who can help you. I think the movie does a good job in making you feel that sense of extreme isolation that the characters have found themselves in, as well as feel the punishing cold that they're having to deal with. If you've ever been outside while it's freezing for a good long while and have felt your cheeks beginning to burn the colder your face gets, especially when the wind's blowing and making it worse, you know exactly how they feel and can imagine how much pain they must be in as frostbite sets in.

That's another thing this movie does well (to the point where it might be a little too well): showing the horrific effects this situation, both the elements and the bad mistakes the characters sometimes make, would have on one's body. The makeup effects were created by Chris Hanson and Greg T. Moon, both of whom have had long careers in the business, and unlike the over-the-top gore effects in Hatchet, they're very realistic and hard to look at, to say the least. There are two in particular that really get to me. The first is Dan's horribly broken legs after he jumps off the chair, which remain bent off to the side in very unnatural positions as he sits and you can even see the bones sticking out. The extreme close-ups you see of them are bad enough but what makes it even worse is Kevin Zegers' performance, as he really sells how much horrible pain he's in at the moment, especially they toss him something that he can use to bind his wounds and he has to repeatedly rock himself back and forth to try to reach it. All the while, you can hear the flesh squishing and the bones cracking and, combined with the extreme cold, it makes your skin crawl, especially when he starts to cry from the agony he's in. As bad as that is, though, it's nothing compared to the infamous part where Parker wakes up the next morning to find that her bare hand has become frozen to the chair's safety bar and she has to pull it off at an agonizingly slow rate. God, does that make me cringe! Just describing it is giving me the chills, as you can see her cold, pale flesh sticking to the metal and you hear it stretching as she pulls it off, until she finally yanks it back and sees that most of the flesh on the palm of her hand has been flayed off. This is the kind of stuff that gets to me anyway. You can show me people getting stabbed, cut up, and such and I don't even flinch, but little things like this, especially when it has to do with extremities (another example is in David Cronenberg's The Fly when Seth Brundle slowly peels off his fingernails), are very hard for me to watch. And in case you can't tell, these type of nasty injuries combined with extreme cold I find to be even worse and this movie has to have the most effective examples I can think.

Similarly effective are the effects that show the progression of the frostbite that the characters suffer over the course of the movie. If you look closely at their faces, particularly Parker's, you can see the skin growing more and more pale, the lips becoming chapped, and ice and slickness starting to build up over and around their eyes and noses, with frost getting caught up in Joe's facial hair. You also see a small patch of skin around Parker's cheekbone beginning to come loose until she reflexively rubs it and it comes off, leaving behind a bloody scab. In addition, Joe attempts to climb across the ski lift's cable twice and both times, it slices completely through his gloves, leading to a very grisly close-up of his shredded hands when he manages to make it to one of the other chairs during his daytime attempt. And finally, you have the aftermath of the wolves' attacks on Dan and later Joe, which are about as realistic as you can get. You only see little snippets of Dan's severed body parts, particularly his hand, strewn throughout the snow, but when Parker comes across Joe's mutilated remains that are being feasted on by the wolves while she's making her escape, you see them in very gruesome detail and it really does look like someone got ripped apart by a park of wild animals.

So, after I've done little more than praise this film so far, you're probably wondering why I say that this movie isn't one that I like and, believe me, I've been trying to figure that out myself. This movie has so many good points to it, both on the technical and acting level, that it baffles me why, at the end of each viewing, I still can't say that it's a first-rate thriller I would watch again and again. As I said before, I think one of the reasons why I don't get into it as much as others probably do is because I've long since let behind the age bracket and period of life of the characters in the film, as well as about 95% of the horror movies made today. I know that shouldn't figure into my enjoyment of a movie, as long as the acting's good, which it is here, but since I've left my college years behind, it feels like seeing yet another horror film or thriller that centers around characters of this age doesn't really get me excited, since I can't relate to that kind of life anymore. I can still watch slasher movies and similar horror films that center around teenagers and college kids, no problem, but when it's a thriller like this that is meant to be completely dead serious and emotional, with rare exceptions, I'd much rather prefer it center around characters who are adults. I know, that's not fair, and that the actors themselves are actually older than I am (Shawn Ashmore himself was pushing 30 when he made the film), as is Adam Green, but it's just a preference that I've lately found myself preferring.

I also said in my introduction that I didn't feel like the movie reached its true potential, even though, as I've also stated, I do think that the scenario and location were both used very well. Thinking about it, I think Green could've strung the characters and the audience along even longer than he did. Instead of having them stuck on the lift for two nights and two days, how about have them trapped up there until near the end of the week, to the point where they're really suffering from both the cold and their bodies becoming hungrier and thirstier as time goes on? Moreover, why not have it so one of them does have some food or water in a backpack they've brought with them or something similar, allowing them to survive longer than they would otherwise, and then, near the end of the week, they realize that they can't last one more day and that they must find some way to escape right then and there? I also think it would've been nice if one of them did manage to make it to another one of the chairs early on, but he was still no closer to one of the poles and his hands were so shredded that he couldn't possibly go any further. Another idea that I think would've been nice is a way to go even further with the idea behind the moment with the snowcat driver: have a scene during the day where somebody does come up to the resort for whatever reason one time during the week but, at the exact time that they do, our characters have fallen asleep on the lift and miss their chance to signal for them (kind of like the scene in Cujo where, when a cop does show up at the farm, Donna Trenton and Tad are asleep in the car and don't realize he's there until it's too late). Speaking of the characters, I think it would have been nice if Dan didn't die the first night but, instead, have him survive until the second or even the third day, then have him make the bad mistake of jumping. In fact, you could have him be the person who gets stranded in another chair and that he jumps because he feels he has no other choice because of the bad shape his hands are in. And once he has jumped and broken his legs, he could be stranded there all day, in horrible pain, the others trying to help him however they can, and then when night falls, you introduce the wolves for the first time. That's another thing: as effective a threat as they are, I think it would have been a bit better to hold off on them until much later, establishing their presence by the sound of their howling in the distance the first night and therefore, really dragging out the tension when Dan gets stuck on the ground, as he knows that they're coming when the sun goes down and he's in no condition to escape. You could then still do the horrifying sequence of him being eaten alive while Joe tries to keep Parker from looking, the both of them crying helplessly as they hear it. I'm not a screenwriter by any means, and I'm sure many will think these suggestions would've made the film either more complicated or longer than it needed to be, as well as that I'm being very nitpicky myself, but they're just some things that I think could've helped it be even better than it already is. But, hey, what do I know?

One aspect of the movie that I can objectively say is more than a little weak is the score by Andy Garfield. Garfield mainly does music for TV shows, shorts, making-of documentaries, and video games, and has very few movies on his filmography (the only other notable ones are the first two Hatchet movies), which isn't surprising, because I barely remember anything about the music in Frozen. I can remember a soft, subtle piece for some of the lighter character moments, like when Joe and Parker have their heart-to-heart the day after Dan's death and during the ending when Parker has been rescued and is being taken to the hospital, as well as during the first part of the end credits, but other than that, the music was little more than very generic and unmemorable. It fit the sequences it was set to fairly well but it left no impression whatsoever, at least with me. The same goes for the songs on the soundtrack, which you hear playing at the resort. Granted, they're not right in your face as something you should pay attention to but, like the music score, they're completely forgettable. One of the songs on the soundtrack, which you hear after Parker makes the deal with Jason to let her and the guys on the lift, is actually by Adam Green's old band, Haddonfield, and the voice you hear singing is Green himself, which is an interesting tidbit but it doesn't do a damn thing for me.

I'm not going to lie, this was kind of a tough one to do, because Frozen is a film that I should, for all intents and purposes, say I really enjoyed and loved. So much of it is very well-done, from the acting, direction, cinematography, and editing, to the very realistic and cringe-inducing makeup effects, the good use of the location and the basic concept, and the fact that everything you see was done for real, through arduous and dangerous conditions, with no digital work or matting whatsoever, that I should have no qualms at all. And yet, as many accolades as I can give it, for whatever reason, I still can't say that I think it's absolutely excellent and that I would watch it again and again. Aside from the music score and soundtrack, which I can genuinely say are very forgettable, I can't quite put my finger on why I feel the way I do, except to suggest that I personally can't relate to characters of this age group anymore and that I think there's more that Adam Green could've done to string the audience and the characters along even further, since the movie, as is, is fairly short at just 93 minutes. Maybe it's a matter of the movie itself not living up to expectations that I had for this scenario, but I always come away from this movie feeling that it could've been so much more than what it is. Of course, the movie has gotten a fair amount of praise since it was released, with people at various festivals actually fainting at some of the scenes, so I guess it's just me being too unreasonable and expecting more than the filmmaker can give. If you like it, I can understand why, but for me, as much as I can praise it, I felt it still could've been better.