It is now officially the month of Halloween, and to start the season of horror off correctly, I recommend you check out Frozen, which doesn’t feature a deformed immortal axe-murderer stalking witless sex-starved teenagers.  Writer/Director Adam Green, whose former credits include the indie-slasher Hatchet turns to smart horror for a change, and in his attempt at taking a simple “what if” concept, he constructs a tightly-wound thriller that had me in its grip from beginning to end.

I wish to apologize to those who may be offended by referring to Frozen as smart horror, but the slasher genre has been done to death and beyond the grave.  When a horror-filmmaker turns to realistic terror, where the premise relies on a believable and fresh scenario, and a viewer can’t help but be caught up in the characters’ reality-based dilemma, that’s where horror really works—and perhaps more importantly—stands out.

Frozen finds three friends at ski resort on a Sunday afternoon.  Two of them are boyfriend, Dan (Kevin Zegers) and girlfriend, Parker (Emma Bell).  The third wheel of the group is Lynch (Shawn Ashmore), the best friend of Dan.  By the end of the night, a storm front is upon the resort, and the group decide to take the ski lift to the bottom of the mountain only to find out it has been closed, and so they convince the lift operator to allow them down before calling it a  night.  Reluctantly, he agrees and the three friends board the chair and start their descent.  When the operator is called away, his replacement is unaware that three people are still in transport, and he shuts down for the night leaving the protagonists trapped 50 feet above ground.  With the park closed until the following Friday, the youngsters remain trapped and soon realize they will not survive the week, which begs the question: “What do you do?”

What follows becomes increasingly terrifying as each of the three friends tries to figure a way out of their situation.  Green manages to keep the story focused and in-the-moment.  Because of that constant focus, I was completely engulfed and left clutching my fingers together in suspense and shock as the predicament continues on a never-ending spiral of bad to worse.  Green accomplishes this without relying on excessive gratuitous gore (although there is some), and utilizes a real set in a real environment.  That certainly adds to the believability of it all.  The actors all deliver solid performances as well, and I stayed with them throughout.  Made on a low budget and barely earning a theatrical release, horror fans owe it to themselves to check out a plausible and original premise within the genre, and one of the best horror offerings I have seen in quite some time.  It is an emotionally-wringing, psychologically-exhausting experience.  Count me freaked out.

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