With Frozen, disgruntled Hofstra kid/writer/director Adam Green has indeed come a long way since the mediocre prepackaged cult success that was Hatchet, a lifeless indie slasher whose swamp-dwelling central baddie, Victor Crowley, was over-hyped by the likes of Harry Knowles as the next big horror icon. Frozen sporadically proves that Green, still only a sufficiently energetic tyro in his own right, can conjure up a technically menacing spectacle.
Green just hasn’t yet learned, or more likely tried hard enough, to instill his stories with any kind of plausible humanism. For the most part, we’re not asked to care about the three young pretty things that are left for dead in a ski lift dangling precariously high above a very steep slope (this is a high-concept horror flick; identifiable characters need not apply).
Green is much more interested in infecting his film with a tedious kind of snarky nihilism than he is in making us care who’s being tortured, which makes for a terrific stunt movie about the amped-up perils of going skiing but not much more (don’t go down that black diamond slope; man-eating wolves are out there, just waiting to mutilate you at every turn). He does this with despicable ease, slapping the viewer in the face by not only stacking the deck against his dopey, beer-swilling young’ns but also demeaning them at every turn.
As overloaded, sap-happy sentimental violin music plays, we watch poor, traumatized, and now frost-bitten Parker O’Neil (Emma Bell) piss her pants and then watch as the urine trickles down the bench she’s warily perched on. Worse still, fellow victim Joe Lynch (Shawn Ashmore) deflates the already stunted emotional resonance of a story he tells Parker to simultaneously distract her and develop his own character in some small way by wrapping up a plodding memory of being an unpopular kid in grade school with a line about how he had to share a cubby with an unlovable little “fat-ass”: “What a little douche-bag. I never let him forget it.”
Nobody makes it out of the film looking good, but that’s clearly not the point. Instead, we’re meant to watch in horror, or more likely disgust, as the kids get tormented, have to make life-or-death decisions, and wind up suffering for them every single time. Preposterous by the end, but Green provides enough formal polish to the film to make it at least partially engaging.