Scary things can happen on chair lifts.
As part of horror blogger Final Girl’s monthly film club, I took a look at the chilly thriller (‘Chiller’, if you will. Aren’t I clever.) Frozen (2010). Writer/director Adam Green takes a simple concept and turns it into a nightmare scenario: What happens when you’re the last to use the chair lift at a dodgy ski resort and by some screw up you get forgotten about?
The film introduces us to the three main characters briefly and doesn’t bother with much development. All we know is that the girl and one of the guys are dating, and the other guy is a needy stoner who has never had a girlfriend. And, well, that’s about it. The fact that they are never really developed as characters only emphasizes their normality: they could be anyone.
The film relies on tension and a (somewhat) plausible concept to create terror. Think Open Water (2003). Nobody enjoys the moment when your chair lift freezes and you’re left to dangle mid-air, if only for a minute, and Green has tapped into a fear that many would shiver at the thought of. Frozen in mid-air, the threesome watch in horror as the lights of the ski resort are turned off, and they realise that it is Sunday night and the resort won’t open again until Friday. Of course.
Right from the start I could imagine the inevitable things that would happen as the three characters swung in the snow. One would definitely need to pee at some point. Someone would probably jump, resulting in disaster. There would most certainly be some skin-freezing-to-chair-lift fiasco a la Dumb and Dumber. One of them would bite the dust pretty speedily. Surprise surprise, all of the above happen.
The film is all about terror through tension, but the use of this tension could have been emphasized a lot more to make it truly unbearable to watch. There is some gore and gross moments but ultimately the horror comes from the thought of the scenario itself. It is a story of survival and making crucial choices, and throughout the film audiences will be wondering, what the heck would I do if it was me stuck up there!? Would I risk the jump? Would I drop my equipment or hold onto it? Would I climb across the cables? Would I wet myself!?
The characters are for the most part, likeable and believable, although listening to the sad singleton stoner mourn his failed love affair made me roll my eyes and wish for his mouth to just freeze up already. At times I was pretty freakin’ bored, but that comes from watching too many gore-fests and being the desensitized viewer that I am.
The main reason that I continued to watch Frozen was purely because I was curious to see what the characters would do. But that is entirely the point of the film, it makes you think about how you would handle such a strive for survival. In any case, you’ll probably never feel comfortable perching your rump on a chair lift again. Better stick to the T-bar lift.
Stay on the ground now, kids, ya hear!?
Photo courtesy of Joe Shlabotnik on Flickr.