Saturday, January 8, 2011

Watch This And Be The Baddest Dude In Revere

OK, I’m going to do something a little different and start this by explaining where the title came from (although, I’m sure that everyone who reads this would know already). Well, a few years ago, Adam Green, the man who directed today’s film, made a short film riffing on the ShamWOW! But with a Hallowe’en flavour. He called it JackChop, and here it is...

Wasn’t that boss, kid? Well, anyway, that was my first introduction to the work of Mr Green. And it was quickly followed by today’s film, one that has been called “one of the best horror films of the year”. The film - Frozen. Is it one of the best? We shall see.

Let’s start off with my one quibble with the film, and the one thing that kept it from being truly great – I did not give one flying piss about the main characters. And when you have a film that takes place almost entirely in one location and focuses on three people for pretty much the entire run, you need to care about them. And I could not care about them any more than I could the few support characters. And that is a real shame, because the premise is utterly terrifying to me.  The main characters get stuck, and pretty much abandoned, on a skilift when the slope they are on shuts down for the week. And if you have ever been on a skilift, I can almost guarantee that this thought has sprung up in your head. But, like I said, for it to work, I needed to care about the protagonists, and I really didn’t.

Dan (the “likable” one, who looks like a swarthy Zac Efron), Joe (the “fratbro douchebag”) and Parker (the “woman” and the “girlfriend” of Dan) are at the slopes for a weekend of skiing and fun and whatever else one does up a snow-covered mountain and manage to con their way onto the skilift. On the skilift, they get abandoned when the negligent attendants shut it down for the week. And by negligent, I mean – they had to shut the skilift down because of weather, but gave in to the hectoring of the kids (and you wonder why I find them unlikable). Will they get down? And if they do, what condition will they be in?

As I said, the overall unlikability of the characters is what keeps this film from being great. But there are a lot of good things about this film that at least make it watchable. From minute one, there is tension, which ramps up considerably when “our heroes” get on the lift – if you have ever ridden one of these things, you are aware of every creak and groan they make on the trip up (especially when the lift stops), and Adam Green makes damn sure you are aware of them as a viewer.

Green doesn’t allow the viewer to not be a part of the situation, which is big plus in my eyes. In so many films, there seems to be an (over?) reliance on flashbacks, especially when characters are talking about their lives – as if the viewer hasn’t been given enough credit to be able to picture something themselves. But here, you stay with them no matter what.

Another positive is the character behaviours. Sure, I know I said that I found the characters unlikable, but that doesn’t mean they don’t behave like actual humans. It’s not a situation that I ever hope to be in, but I can definitely see people behaving the ways that they did. Especially when the panic of their situation first hits them, after the lights are turned off. Sure, they soon descend into horror movie archetypes, but they at least start off human, and do try to remain that way through the run of the film.

Now, there were definitely a couple of cringe worthy parts (for good cringe worthy, think plummeting and frostbite; for bad, think wolves) in addition to the tension, but they paled in comparison to the tense moments.  And I will give the camerawork props, there were some great shots in the film. But overall, it’s a film that should have been a lot better than it ended up being.

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