Kevin Zegers, Shawn Ashmore, Emma Bell
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
Welcome to "How to Squander 15 Minutes of Fame 101," a cinematic course featuring Kevin Zegers, known primarily to audiences as the angry teen in the Felicity Huffman led Transamerica. In Transamerica, the young Zegers convinced us all he could act competently alongside the Oscar-nominated Huffman.
Since Transamerica, however, Zegers has appeared in a rather ridiculous number of half-assed Hollywood flicks without a decent performance to show for it. Zegers' squandering of his 15 minutes of fame is nearly complete with his appearance in writer/director Adam Green's Frozen, in which three college buddies get stuck on a ski lift when the resort they're at shuts down for the week not long after they've misguidedly decided to go for one last snowboarding blast.
Green, who directed the much gorier and vastly superior Hatchet, seems baffled by how to turn Frozen into an interesting or thrilling film and, in the end, neither one happens.
How exciting can a thriller/horror flick really be when it centers around three mostly irritating college buddies caught on a ski flick?
Option #1: Stay on ski lift and surely face death from exposure to the elements.
Option #2: Try to climb down from said ski lift and risk falling or, gasp!, the bloodthirsty pack of wolves that has suddenly appeared perilously below (which appears to actually be about 10-12 feet at times with certain camera angles).
Option #3: Engage in meandering, pointless conversations having nothing to do with the actual storyline and then make a feeble attempt to escape this dastardly fate.
Dan (Zegers), Parker (Emma Bell) and Lynch (Shawn Ashmore, X-Men) choose all of the above at various points and, with the exception of a few reasonably gory scares, what unfolds is remarkably devoid of anxiety, fear or anything else that one might expect to feel when facing such an awful death. By the time Frozen finally reaches its climactic scenes, only the most devoted of audience members is going to care about any of our three leading players.
In order for Frozen to have worked, one of three things would have been necessary:
- The camera work of Will Barratt would have needed to have heightened for audiences the sense of peril that faces this trio. This could have been accomplished with more dedication to overhead shots rather than the rather bizarre choice to shoot the majority of Frozen from either the ground up or from what looks like a practically level place. Thus, Frozen never looks nor feels particularly frightening.
- Frozen could have worked had Zegers, Bell or Ashmore been strong enough to create a sympathetic, winning character. Unfortunately, between the paper thin characters captured by Green on paper and the uninteresting performances we're left with characters for whom we feel nothing.
- If Green had managed to up the peril rather than spending so much time early on with irrelevant plot exposition, Frozen could have ended up feeling much like the claustrophobic, exhausting Open Water, a film to which it can easily be compared.
None of these things happened, however, and Frozen plays out like a decent gimmick that could have been fully explored with a 5-10 minute short film. Production values are hyped across the board. Andy Garfield's original score will surely let you know when you should grab your seat but you won't, though Bryan McBrien does win some kudos for his mood-setting production design that manages to create more emotions than the direction, script, performances and score combined.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic