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STUDIO Arc Entertainment
RUNNING TIME 95 Minutes
• Trailer for the film–
–Two idiots go camping in the winter, get trapped, and then bad things happen.–
– Andrew Hyatt (Writer/Director), Brit Morgan, Seth David Mitchell, Noah Segan–
–In this terrifying psychological thriller, Emma and her boyfriend Mike take an ill-advised winter camping trip and are left to fight for their lives after a snowmobile accident leaves them stranded deep in the mountains. What begins as a struggle for survival against the harsh elements, quickly turns into something far more chilling when the couple begins to glimpse a mysterious man who appears to be tracking them trhough the forest. Lost, alone, hunted — and nothing is as it seems.–
–On paper The Frozen sounds more than a little bit like a sister film to Adam Green’s Frozen. That was pretty much what I was expecting going into this, but it turned out to be one of the most carefully crafted and legitimately scary horror movies I have ever seen.
Seth David Mitchell and Brit Morgan play two of the oldest horror archetypes in existence: the nice-guy with grand plans he’s not qualified to carry out and the fed-up girl that complains, jabs, and emasculates him every chance she gets.
So, Mike, the well-meaning boob, brings Emma, the barely tolerant exasperated sigh factory, out on a camping trip in the middle of winter. As a well-meaning boob, Mike has taken every precaution to see things go smoothly by camping on a large piece of land no-one ever goes on and few know about, not telling anyone he’s going there, and selecting a campsite 10 miles from their car which can only be traversed by their one rented snowmobile that he’s never actually driven along a path that can only be identified by a series of easy to remove red ribbons he ties on thin easily-breakable branches as he goes.
On the first day of their trip, Mike wrecks the snowmobile and it no longer works. So now our heroes have to traverse ten miles of snow on foot and, surprise, the ribbon trail is gone. To complicate matters, they keep seeing a mysterious hunter in the woods who acknowledges them but never responds or tries to help them.
During the day Mike and Emma attempt to escape with no success, catching glimpses of the hunter occasionally, and at night they’re plagued by strange sounds and lights. Is the hunter tormenting them? Is it some sort of Satanic cult? Is it aliens? Is it ghosts? Are they dead and just don’t know it? Or are they just imagining something sinister in a stressful and potentially dangerous situation? All these explanations flitted through my head as I watched and no one seemed any more or less plausible than the other.
Paranoia and desperation are the key themes of the rest of the movie. A lot of movies have tried very hard to do what this one does with seemingly no effort at all. The tone here is like a cross between the paranoia of Deliverance’s second half and the fear of the unknown that populated the less tedious parts of The Blair Witch Project.
Being a horror afficionado, I’ve seen a lot of movies that take place in the woods as a default scary place. Though many of those movies have been scary for one reason or another, few have captured just how paralyzingly terrifying the woods are after dark. There’s plenty of frightening imagery and sounds in this movie but none are so effective as the numerous shots of Emma playing her flashlight beam over the darkness just outside the campsite. The way the light hits the trees, revealing really nothing and making the woods seem even more ominous and malefic just sets the atmosphere perfectly.
What’s on display here is not the least bit original. As I mentioned above, Mike and Emma’s characters make the jock/slut/stoner/brain/virgin tropes look fresh and original and while the story is entertaining , it’s a well trodden path. But the beauty of The Frozen is how well it uses old ideas to build something great; director/writer Andrew Hyatt has managed to take some old boring toys and made them seem new and fun again and that really is a testament to the raw talent that’s on display here.
This is a minimalist movie with few sets, few characters, and almost no special effects, but it manages to build more atmosphere than hundreds of movies with bigger budgets and more well-known and celebrated actors and directors. There is an unparalleled level of craftsmanship that went into this movie and even if you aren’t a horror fan you should still give this movie a shot, it’s worth it.–
–This movie is minimalist but it never looks or feels as cheap as I’m sure it probably was. The film and sound quality are crisp and easily on par with any theatrical film.
The disc is light on special features but the movie speaks for itself so I didn’t really miss them.–
Out of a Possible 5 Stars