Frozen (2010) Review

Frozen comes from the, “Why didn’t anyone think of this before” department, a simple story of three people stuck in an absolutely terrifying scenario. It’s part of that small genre that’s seen a few hits as of late, the small budgeted Open Water and Colin Farrell vehicle Phone Booth. We’ll call it the single location survival thriller, or in the case of Frozen, brilliant.

This is a film that when at its peak is truly terrifying, ratcheting that tension meter tighter than the steel wires holding the lone, solitary ski lift in the air. Our three characters have been inadvertently left on the line unbeknownst to the employees, who have gone home until next week. It’s cold, the wolves below are hungry, and that steel cable is too sharp to climb on… oh, and there’s a hefty snowstorm too.

The danger piles up for these friends, each a rather well-rounded character considering the time available to build them. Every time the odds drop, the tension grows.

Frozen has breaks, something to give the audience a rest from the agony of a growing frostbite problem, and the incredible amount of pain Dan (Kevin Zegers) must be in after trying to jump down from the stranded lift, unsuccessfully to say the least.

There are no tricks, no obvious green screen effects in play, nothing to break the tension or the severity of the situation. The only trick is a small camera weave, just enough to give that feeling of suspension and not solid ground. The threat of an instant or slow death is prominent, and the variety of ways that could happen continues to grow.

Watching Joe (Shawn Ashmore) attempt to climb across the wire is sheer terror, the camera almost playfully making sure the height is in focus, shooting from below to establish how steep of a drop that would be. It’s not enough that we already know legs will be broken, snapped in half actually, director Adam Green’s camerawork is there to continually pour it on. It’s smartly handled visually, from those potentially deadly drops to those isolated views of the desolate, empty mountainside as the sun rises. Everything connects here, a rare film that capitalizes and trounces the potential in the concept.

Movie ★★★★★ 

Frozen was shot on film, although given the low budget, it was likely not a great stock, resulting in this rather bland AVC encode. Flat is the best descriptor, although not because of the usual sources. Black levels here are quite sufficient, especially as the sun dips down leaving little more than a nighttime sky for a backdrop.

Part of it is the color, which while natural, looks quite bland on screen. The brighter colored clothes don’t have much pop to them, flesh tones are pale, and the contrast only seems bright enough when the screen is snow-heavy (for lack of a better term).

Detail is another issue, the lack there of specifically. While the thick-stitched coats and hats are well resolved, at this resolution they should be. It’s the facial detail that is almost entirely lacking, and not just during a few grain/softness spikes like at 19:38. As the cold begins to tear into the characters (literally), the slowly freezing ice chunks on their faces become sharp and prominent, more so than anything else. Environments are great, the fine cinematography of the mountain range coming through better than anything else.

A light grain structure bends towards slightly noisy instead of wholly resolved, apparent against the solid sky. At night, any problems are hidden within the shadows, making it a non-issue.

Video ★★★☆☆ 

A TrueHD effort, Anchor Bay licensing a codec this time instead of their typical PCM mix, is surprisingly robust considering the limiting nature of the material. The soundtrack is prominent, given a rather rich low-end support during a brief montage early, the real thuds saved for later to enhance the horror.

Hearing bones shatter has rarely been this disturbing, the gruesome snap placed so effectively, there’s no chance at missing it. The subwoofer comes back with a vengeance during some of those standard horror movie drum scares, although they’re used properly here with a purpose.

Surrounds capture some heavy winds during an early snowstorm, plus the howling of wolves as they make an appearance. It adds tremendously to the isolation and the overall effect.

Audio ★★★★☆ 

Director Adam Green offers his thoughts, joined by his three main stars, in a lively commentary. A second commentary has Green again, this time with cinematographer Will Barratt and editor Ed Marx, Diving into the additional extras, a series of four featurettes work together well as a main documentary, running almost as long as the film itself. The complexity and the challenges of the shoot are well represented. Deleted scenes, also with a commentary, are present, followed by an easter egg if you scroll far enough in the extras detailing a creepy story about the shooting location.

Extras ★★★★☆ 

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For more information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.