FROZEN—-there’s not much point to writing up opinions on films (or makes of faucets, for that matter) if you don’t put some kind personal spin on it, otherwise you’re merely an encyclopedia huckster (even cheesier, because you’re hiding behind a keyboard), so I ask you to bear with me for a story I’ll enclose at the end of my observations here. It’s germane, so what the heck…
This merciless little 2010 horror tale likely will bring up requisite chills from one audience (worked well enough for me) while leaving others—um..cold? (a friend watching it with me abruptly left the room and started sorting laundry).
Three spunky young snowboarders are gadding about on the slopes at night. I say spunky, but they skirt smart-aleck-careless, in line with the genre behavioral table marked You-Asked-For-It,-Idiots. Played competently by Emma Bell, Kevin Zegers and Shawn Ashmore, this trio is not as obnoxious as the usual Blair Witch type of Soon-to-Get-Dead folk, and their mistake/mishap is acceptable enough.
They want one last run before an incoming storm closes the lifts. They bribe the operator to run them up. Ooopsydaisy, sorry about that power outage…they’re stranded in the lift, high up, weather coming in, it’s dark. Try jokes at first. Then, argue. Pick straws. Lookout, below!
Waiting for them in the woods and slopes beneath are Mans not-quite-Best-Friends—a pack of wolves. Maybe having whetted their snouts on The Day After Tomorrow, possibly warming up for chomping-out Liam Neeson’s team from The Grey; regardless, they’re on-site in New England’s hills (filmed in Utah) and those snowboarders dangling legs look much tastier than cold rabbit.
Directed & written by Adam Green, the pocket-scale terror is a nifty, odd blend of claustrophobia (three people sardined into a ski lift, 50 feet in the air—all filmed without CGI fakery) mixed with agoraphobia (the silent, freezing human-empty landscape around and below offers nothing like solace). Add the prehistoric age-old fear none of us like to contemplate outside of a theater or DVD: some thing or bunch of things, eating us alive. Thanks, I’ll take the written test.
Decently reviewed 93 minute one-eye-closed chiller took in only $3,000,000, but ought to hold a decent resale value for the scare-minded. People fainted at the previews in Sundance, if that tickles your paws any.
Now, back to what I mentioned at the top, regarding a personal take. People often look at these horror items and casually dismiss the dumb actions of the imperiled, This is aside from the quality, good or bad, of the production, and it often reflects simple dismissal of the type of story. They’re basically saying “I’m not that stupid. I would never do that. Why don’t they turn on the lights?”, etc.
1980 or so: backpacking in the Canadian Rockies. My buddy was playing alpha-male, and he had the greatest amount of trail experience. His other pal was likewise supposedly wood-wise, and was cocky to boot. Me?—I’m the newby. Alpha’s girlfriend is along—her first hike.
Miles into the middle of b-f-nowhere. Lewis & Clark have blithely forged ahead, leaving Gilligan & Mrs. Howell behind. Hours go by. It’s getting dark. We’re off the trail. The He-Dudes have the tent, the stove and the map. We’re in a thicket. The park has grizzly bears in it. Your humble correspondent, going Joe Friday (make that Joe Afraidy) is carrying the .44 Magnum that we illegally brought along for last-stand insurance. Behind me, I hear a blood-curdling shriek of terror. I whip the pistol out of my pack, spin around, ready to fight a fricking 1000-pound Ursus Horribilis. The young lady had dropped her Nikon in a creek. A primal scream that would indicate something like seeing a mastodon stepping on her newborn came about because of her nervous exhaustion and dropping a gizmo for taking snapshots. I did not have the hammer cocked, so I was at least level-headed enough not to accidentally put a three-inch hole in another human.
When the morons arrived, we gave them hell. Point is, people (we were all relatively smart) will do tragically foolish things at the worst time possible—bet on it.
So….abandoned, stalled ski-lift, in the dark, no cell-phone cavalry, with wolves? Laugh all the way to the morgue, smarty….