Freezer is right. It is a film about a freezer which shifts into a tale of Russian mafia money and an arrogant car mechanic trapped inside. It’s the single location thriller, joining the ranks of Frozen and recent ATM, if one which pays nominal heed to its locale.
Said freezer is more of a front, rarely the dipping mercury threat as intended. Robert (Dylan McDermott) is knocked out and cast to the ground on his birthday, waking up in a plastic bag with temps marginally over freezing inside of a meat locker.
If nothing else, Robert is locked in with packages of bacon, so his life is in less jeopardy than it may seem. As he rustles around in search of survival mechanisms (even bumping into bacon), Freezer saps its inherent pull and rips open the door. In step grumpy, scruffy Russians to throw some punches and answer questions – exactly what the film does not need.
Audiences are not even settled into Robert’s strife before the rush of scenario building dialog is dumped into the script. Tension, it would seem, is something outside of Freezer’s entertainment spectrum. And so Freezer goes, Robert slamming things with a fire extinguisher, mobsters roughing him up, and repeat.
Blips of life (literally) include an unknown named Sam (Peter Facinelli) lying shot and bleeding out in a corner, covered in boxes. There is a phone too, connected to a cop seeking Robert’s locale. Those flourishes add brief splashes of information, if limited in scope. Freezer is an $8 million film – although not in budget. That becomes missing money Robert is mistakenly accused of stealing from the exaggerated Russian crew.
At a thin 82-minutes, Freezer is not the type to wander and yet still carries symptoms of life sapping frostbite. The film lacks a central drama, tension, or energy, surrounding its premise on a dismal lead character of crummy likability. McDermott’s spikes of life are egregiously flat one-liners, as if he is a misplaced side character from a chummy buddy comedy. Unfortunately, there is no one on the other half to support his childish bickering.
Credit to the make-up team for brushing layers of chills on McDermott, creating a man slowly succumbing to the cold, although no credit to the breath team. Convincing cold requires visible exhaling; Freezer has almost none. As if the reality of situation was not already slipping through credibility, its final swings are a confusing, huddled mass of illogical shock twists. Contradictory plot devices are Freezer’s final layer of burying ice.
Slimming down on the lighting and relying heavily on overhead fluorescents, Freezer is little to look at, even less so with the reliance on softened cinematography. So little detail siphons between the seemingly accidental sharpness as to render this flick a Blu-ray no-go.
The piece is all digital, crafted from the usually detail hardy Arri Alexa, with none of its brunt force detail capturing. A buzzing of noise adds more texture than any source material. Anchor Bay drops a capable AVC encode to head off any impending compression, all to little avail.
What limited fidelity is exhibited exists in close-ups, outside of those muted focal shots, or even signs of digital filtration. Freezer never feels visually comfortable, uneasy in everything it is doing. Unsteady and unsure are fitting descriptors.
An appropriately chilly palette suits the mood, arguably better than the film itself. Fluorescent lights offer no warmth and pale flesh tones inhibit a range of “pasty” to “snowman mimicry.” Dulled contrast mingles with adequate black levels to add a spritz of depth to the otherwise flattened proceedings.
A burst of audio energy picks up on the availability of the subwoofer in opening moments before the TrueHD mixing appears to forget about the low-end. Inside the meat locker, cooling fans drone on as the only ambiance. There is little placed in the confined space. Dialog sticks to the center without an echo to better sell the locale.
When Freezer struggles to life for its finale, gunshots wane with lacking impact. Activity fails in directionality with a slim leak into the stereos while surrounds lay waiting for work. Audio mixing seems secondary (or even budget constrained) to lessen the atmosphere critical to delivering the isolation.
Behind It All is the main feature, a brief and uninteresting three minute BTS piece, filled with plot recapping. Three separate interviews follow, also clipped for length, featuring Dylan McDermott, director Mijael Salomon, and Peter Facinelli. Even at a just a few minutes, they still fill space with finished clips.
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