What are the basics of a good thriller?
Neatly developed characters - Check!
An environment that plays a role as vital as the characters - Check!
A storyline so simple yet told in such a precise and crisp manner that it keeps you hooked till the end - Check!
Add all the three and voila! you are all set to make your own cocktail of a low-budget thriller without any cheap gimmicks.
Director Adam Green gets his key ingredients right and serves us a dish - Frozen. Though only ninety minutes long "Frozen" takes little time in introducing us to the premise of the story - Mount Holliston, a New England Ski Resort opened only in the weekends. The resort is visited by two best friends Dan and Lynch and Dan's girlfriend Parker, much to Lynch's chagrin who just wants to spend some "buddy time" with Dan. What was planned to be a weekend of fun and ice-skiing turns out to be a disaster as the three friends are stranded at night on a chairlift in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by snow capped mountains with the ski resort closed out till next Friday. Braving the weather, frostbite and a pack of wolves circling beneath them the three friends are forced to make life-and-death choices, the consequences of which form the rest of the movie.
Made by an independent production house "ArieScope Pictures", "Frozen" tells its tale with a sincerity and street-smart flair which is associated with such maverick establishments. It does not have any well-known stars, nor does it have any special effects. The brittle relation between Lynch and Parker is smartly built up as both the girlfriend and the best friend vie for Dan's attention. Lynch's sarcastic comments on Parker's smoking habits and more are one of the few incidents that underlines the simmering uneasiness between the two characters that slowly surfaces even before the three board the chairlift, which makes you look forward to how they will react in a backs-to-the-wall situation.
Dan is torn between his childhood friend and his girlfriend, and his angst is well portrayed by Kevin Zegers. Emma Bell does a great job as Parker, initially shown as a wily customer who dupes a bemused chairlift operator into giving her and her "girlfriends" a chairlift ride at a lesser price, she slowly changes into a picture of a scared, confused and helpless girl who just wants to go back home and feed her pet dog. Shawn Ashmore as Lynch has the most solid role amongst the three. As the insecure best friend he goes all out in making Parker feel unwelcome to the trip with his snide and sarcastic remarks, and at the same time shows his devotion to his friend Dan by reluctantly accepting her as a part of the trip.
With almost Eighty percent of the movie taken on a chairlift, and with only a limited boundary to be explored, cinematographer Will Barrat does a terrific job as he captures the mood of the actors, their isolated feeling and that of the nature they are pitted against in detail. With only a restricted surrounding to play with, "Frozen" could have easily lost its grip within the first forty-five minutes, but the interest is sustained throughout the film as Man's most primeval instinct, that of survival against nature is shown in gruesome acts as the characters are forced to risk their lives, love and friendship for each other. What makes your heart go out for the characters is that their innocence is shown intact even when they are faced under a life-threatening situation, as they try to take each other's mind off the disaster by talking about favorite type of cereals or Parker's pet dog. They discuss the fragility of life in a conversation regarding the 9/11 disaster wherein people had jumped off from buildings with a faint hope to save their lives. The intricacies of life and death have never been shown in such a simple yet engrossing manner in recent times.
"Frozen" has its few disturbing moments which will make you cringe, which will make you squeam, yet never do you find the usage of it as emotionally manipulating or over-the-top. "Frozen" is a simple story of three ordinary youngsters looking out for each other, all the while fighting to survive in the toughest of conditions. Made with a lot of heart, and with a lot of grit Adam Green shows you how to tell a story by staying well within the boundaries.