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Saturday, January 8, 2011

Frozen

FROZEN

** SPOILERS **

127 Hours set a high bar for movies about human survival against the elements, and certainly Danny Boyle and his Slumdog Millionaire team could have done delirious wonders with this story of three friends trapped on a ski lift. With Frozen, armed with a modest budget, some canny self-awareness, and a willingness to raise the stakes at the right moments, writer-director Adam Green crafted a harrowing, effective, dare I say chilling thriller. (I did. I'm sorry.) Shawn Ashmore is resentful when his best friend Kevin Zegers brings his girlfriend Emma Bell along on their guys' getaway ski trip in New England. (Dig the Newbury Comics billboard prominently displayed along with other right-on references to the New England area.) A combination of the trio's hubris and the incompetence of the ski staff  leaves Ashmore, Zegers, and Bell trapped on the chairlift overnight, hanging dozens of feet in the air as night falls and the temperature drops. Frozen cleverly runs the gamut of the dangers of winter exposure such as frostbite, then jaw-droppingly raises the ante when Zegers attempts to drop from the chairlift and gruesomely shatters both his legs. In 1986, pro wrestling manager Jim Cornette fell from a scaffold during a wrestling match and blew out both his knees when he landed in the ring. What happens to Zegers' legs upon landing is ten times worse. And that's before the wolves arrive - the movie's stand in for the shark from Jaws that the characters reference when listing the worst ways one can die.  Zegers probably shouldn't have had quite the energy to talk and scream after his bones tear through his legs, but the wolf attack put a stop to that logic break quickly. Ashmore and Bell turn in genuine performances; their terror and hopelessness were palpable, which made their fight to live believable. Ashmore mans up with an utterly heroic attempt to rescue them both, but only one of them finally survives the ordeal. Frozen earns nerd points for the running joke about the Sarlaac from Return of the Jedi. Double nerd points for casting Ashmore in Frozen, placing Iceman from the X-Men films in a situation where he could freeze to death or get mauled by wolve(rine)s.

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