There are really only two key questions for anyone crafting a “people trapped somewhere” thriller: 1. How plausible is it that they can’t get help?, and 2. How do you sustain the premise once the peril has been established? If you can somehow manage to answer those two questions in a satisfactory manner, you’re more than halfway to winning over an audience.
In Frozen, writer/director Adam Green does a perfectly decent job of the former, and takes an unusual approach to the latter. His setup finds college students Joe (Shawn Ashmore), his best friend Dan (Kevin Zegers) and Dan’s girlfriend Parker (Emma Bell) trying to run a scam to get free lift rides at a New England resort (the film was actually shot in Utah). There is, unfortunately, a down side to getting one guy to give you a freebie: What happens if that guy’s not around at the end of the day, and they shut the lift down with you still on it? And what if it’s a Friday and the resort won’t re-open for four days? And what if there’s a storm’s coming?
Green proves himself to be an impressive director of set pieces, pacing his most intense scenes perfectly for maximum impact, and allows enough buildup to the characters being stranded that the development makes perfect sense. He also takes a risk by including a lot of downtime in which the characters hash out their dilemma and their various issues with one another, leaving a large middle chunk with no big scares. That approach might have worked perfectly, had all that chatter provided as strong foundation for Parker as a character as it does for Joe. As it stands, she’s little more than a cute girl in danger—which makes it fortunate that the danger itself will probably have you cringing in your seat.
Shawn Ashmore Kevin Zegers Emma Bell