Monday, February 2, 2015

Overlooked Film of the Week- "Frozen" (2010)

Overlooked Film of the Week- #92
When we think of "Frozen" on film, we will quickly jump to discussing Elsa, Anna, Olaf, Christoph and the dozens of other characters from the gigantically popular Disney film. I have had the Disney movie bleeding from my eardrums for a little over a year now. For those who don't know, I make my money by teaching and mentoring 4 and 5 year olds at a daycare center that is literally down the street from O'Hare airport. While it is a rewarding job overall, the biggest thing that has annoyed me about it is the "Frozen" mania that has gripped the nation for what seems like a millennia at this point. Hey, I gave the film a positive review myself. I really do believe it works as a movie. But all the popularity around it has oversaturated it, I think. Now, I feel like I never want to pay money towards it again.

The Chicago area got slammed with snow all day yesterday, and it got me thinking about the movie "Frozen." I don't mean the Disney, cutesy "Frozen," I am talking the scary, survival "Frozen" that came out in 2010. I remember seeing this movie for the first time when I was a junior in college. A buddy and I decided to have a Friday night in as our other two house-mates were out of town that weekend and we didn't feel like going out that night. So we grabbed some KFC and plucked a copy of "Frozen" from a nearby Redbox. As we sat watching the movie, we were blown away by how cold it got in the house. It was a February night just as this one when we watched it, and it is further proof that cold can be just as chilling (no pun intended) than any haunted house I have ever visited.

But just as "Frozen" is chilling to the bone, it is an unrelenting film about survival. It sets up a situation that only would happen in the movies, but does so with enough creep factor and enough confidence to count. I don't think it is the most realistic movie ever made, but it sure embraces its premise, and sometimes that is enough to win someone over. The film revolves around three friends, Dan (Kevin Zegers), Joe (Shawn Ashmore, famous for playing Iceman in the "X-Men" movies, pun totally intended) and Parker (Emma Bell). The three friends are on a ski trip when they hear that the resort will be closing early due to a terrible storm moving in. Yet, the three friends convince the ski lift attendant to give them one last run down the hill. Unexpectedly, the attendant is replaced by a co-worker and is called to the office. The attendant tells the co-worker that three skiers are left on the hill, and when the co-worker sees three skiers come back down, he shuts off the ski lift at the resort.

Except those three skiers are not the three friends we are introduced to. Those friends are still on the ski lift when it is shut down, and they are now trapped on the ski lift in the middle of the run, with a long fall at their feet. The rest of the movie is about how these three friends keep trying to survive, get off the lift and leave. Yes, I will admit that the film goes out of its way to keep the friends trapped there, but we don't watch horror movies for the logic. We watch horror movies to get scared, and I don't think the suspension of disbelief is as severe as something like...say..."The Exorcist." The movie does a good job of keeping the audience invested in what is happening, no matter how wildly silly it all is.

The film is also effective in the way that we feel every bit of each characters' deterioration. The frost gets to them because we see it. The frostbite hurts them because we feel it. There is even one scene when one friend tries to travel across the lift wire by hand to the nearest lift post, one of the highlight scenes of intensity. The work done by Zegers, Ashmore and Bell is very good, and I like how they were able to feel all the pain and agony that their characters are feeling. For a cast made up almost entirely of unknowns, that's a pretty profound accomplishment.

I will also say that the film gets pretty off-the-rails (in a good way, mind you) when the wolves arrive from out of the woods. But I don't want to ruin the entire movie for you.

In a season as cold as this one, it may not help to watch a movie about the cold. But this one is so intense that it just might get your blood boiling.

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