Frozen (2010)

Adam Green

Shawn Ashmore - Joe Lynch
Kevin Zegers - Dan Walker
Emma Bell - Parker O'Neil
Ed Ackerman - Jason
Rileah Vanderbilt - Shannon
Kane Hodder - Cody

Genre - Horror/Thriller/Suspense/Psychological

Running Time - 93 Minutes

I haven't been skiing in ten years, but I do enjoy the sport. I can't say I'm all that good at it, but falling down on the snow and feeling the chilly air hitting my face is a pretty good time, in my opinion. The only thing I like is getting on the ski life. Not only am I afraid of spiders and terrified by clowns, but yes, I'm also afraid of heights. I tend to like having control over things, yet gravity is one thing no one can really control.

Which is why the events of 2010's FROZEN are horrifying for me. I can't imagine being stuck on a ski lift at a high altitude, with no one to hear you scream for help while you're freezing to death during a snowstorm. Not only that, but jumping off of the lift could either physically injure you or kill you. And if you do survive, you also have to deal with a few carnivorous friends that are very hungry. It's like being stuck at the very top of a Ferris Wheel, but worse.

Thankfully, FROZEN is just a movie - and what a great movie it is! Not only will it chill you, make you cringe, and feel sorry for the plight of these characters; but it will also make you appreciate Adam Green's evolution as a horror director and screenwriter. FROZEN is Green's finest work at this point and deserves to be more than just a cult hit.

Parker (Emma Bell), her boyfriend Dan (Kevin Zegers), and his best friend Joe (Shawn Ashmore), spend time at a ski resort for the weekend. Due to Parker's inexperience at skiing and snowboarding, the trio is stuck on the bunny slopes for most of the weekend. This frustrates Joe, who wants to do more challenging skiing, plus doesn't like the fact that Parker is interfering with his "Guy's Weekend" with Dan. As the resort is about to close, Joe wants to hit tougher slopes. He, Dan, and Parker convince the communication operator of the ski lift, Jason (Ed Ackerman), for one last ski, but poor communication leads to the trio being stuck in their ski lift, high above with no signs of life or help around to save them from freezing to death. Realizing that the resort won't reopen until the following weekend, the trio must decide how to save themselves from the cold, their dangerous height, and a pack of hungry wolves that come out of nowhere.

I'm surprised that the idea behind FROZEN worked extremely well as a feature-length movie. It's just so basic and uncomplicated that you'd believe it would work better as a short rather than a 90-minute experience. But Adam Green makes it work so well, to the point where you're captivated by the performances of the actors, the characters, the direction, and the simple story itself. Even though I did find one of the plot devices to be a bit far-fetched, to the point that it took some of the logic away from the realism of the situation, I really enjoyed FROZEN.

It's hard to discuss the narrative of the movie without spoiling things, so I won't discuss the specifics of the story itself. Instead, I'll focus on the main reason why FROZEN works so well - the characters. Green does it right by keeping the focus on the three main characters from beginning to end, instead of bringing in an ensemble cast that could dilute the intensity and fear of the situation. We learn a lot about these characters within 90 minutes, making us relate to each one of them and experience indirectly what they're going through onscreen.

I thought they were all sympathetic for different reasons. Joe and Dan are those best friends who act more like brothers - probably able read each other's throughts and finish each other's sentences. With the addition of Parker, it adds tension between Joe and Dan. While Joe understands that Dan should spend time with his new girlfriend, Joe still wants that bonding time alone with Dan. This tension builds up, especially when all three are trapped on the ski lift. You start to wonder what the jealousy and "third wheel" aspect of their relationship will bring about once the need to survive kicks in. And it's done in a realistic way, where they put that aside, learn more about each other as individuals, and realize that their only way to survive is to work together.

And it's not like any individual is a total prick that you'll hate one of them for being so petty and bitter. Parker, in one scene, suggests to step aside for a while so the guys can hang out together. This shows that she understands the situation and is willing to be a good girlfriend who cares about Joe and Dan's relationship. And at the same time, Joe tries to make it seem as if everything is okay, even when Parker knows it's not, just to please his best friend. And with Dan playing off both sides and willing to make time with both Parker and Joe, it creates a very interesting and humanistic dynamic that most films in general tend to fail at doing it. They're not stereotypes that we usually see in a horror film. They're real people struggling in a horrible situation, which allows them to open up to each other and bond over survival. It's sort of like 2004's OPEN WATER, but I think the characters in FROZEN are more appealing and interesting due to their portrayals.

I also think that Green presents the scenerio as believable. Even though I'm sure it's rare for people to be stranded on a ski lift for long periods of time, I'm sure it could be possible. This is where the psychological aspect comes in. The one question you keep asking yourself is, "What would I do?" "Would I try and jump off the lift to find some sort of help?" "Would I just wait, hoping someone will help me?" I think asking these sort of questions and doubting your gut instincts is truly the terrifying part of the whole deal. I kept asking myself if I would have done what these characters would have done, even knowing the risks. What happens to them physically will definitely make you cringe, but it's the emotional and mental toll that really brings out the horror here. I think Green did a great job building up the suspense, having the characters talk to each other about their options and making their dialogue and actions truly realistic. I found the facial expressions and body language of each character to be more interesting than what they said. I'm not saying the dialogue was terrible - it was actually very well written and each thing that was said actually meant something and moved the story forward. But the silence is always more telling and I bought it in this film.

I think the only issue I have with the story is the appearance of the wolves. Yeah, that sounds truly hypocritical of me since my nickname is "The Wolf". But I felt that their presence, while adding tension to the scenerio and giving the characters another obstacle to overcome, was a bit far-fetched in terms of the realism that surrounded it. If the characters had talked about a story about someone getting attacked by wolves [like a legend or something], or if the workers at the resort had warned people of wolves, I probably would have bought it. But they just appear out of nowhere and at the most convienient of times. It almost comes off as a bit over-the-top. I think the film could have been just as great without the wolf sub-plot, because the characters could still injure themselves by falling, freeze to death, or be buried by the snowstorm. There still would have been danger and obstacles that were physical without adding more to the mix. I understand why Green added them in and for the most part, they worked as a cinematic tool. But I think that because everything was so subtle before their appearance, it took me out of the film for a bit. Instead of me worrying that the wolves were going to eat the characters, I kept wondering where the hell they came from. Less is more sometimes.

FROZEN isn't particularly a gore-fest, but there are moments that will make audiences cringe and cover their eyes. There's a moment where someone falls and the bones of their legs push out of their skin as the legs break. We get a hand stuck to the metal rod that protects one from falling off a ski lift. And of course, we get the wolves doing their thing. The film is more psychological in its horror, but there is blood.

Adam Green's direction is superb. The cinematography is absolutely stunning. The pacing is perfect. There are no over-the-top stylistic shots to compensate for a weak story. Green shoots with subtlety and let's the acting and screenplay tell the story rather than the visuals. Green also displays a fantastic level of creating tension and suspense that I truly appreciated. It probably helped that FROZEN was actually filmed for several weeks during a snow storm, working through the freezing conditions and risking frostbite to create a memorable horror film. I say he succeeded in doing just that. I have enjoyed Green's work on HATCHET and SPIRAL, but FROZEN is his masterpiece so far in his young career. I definitely look forward to more from him.

The acting is very strong and carries the film from beginning to end. Shawn Ashmore, best known as Bobby 'Iceman' Drake from the X-MEN trilogy, was excellent as Joe Lynch [named after the director of WRONG TURN 2: DEAD END, who happens to be one of Green's good friends]. He was truly sympathetic and I found his vulnerability both charming and realistic. Kevin Zegers, best known for his roles in AIR BUD and 2004's DAWN OF THE DEAD, also does well as Dan. The character goes through hell in the film and Zegers plays it off convincingly. Plus he had fantastic chemistry with Ashmore, who are best friends in real life [which helped the performances greatly]. Emma Bell was also very good as Parker. She brought a vulnerability and compassion to a character that could have been stereotypical. I believed her fear and felt bad for her. She also had great chemistry with Zegers and Ashmore. Plus we get cameos by Joe Lynch, Adam Green himself, and even Kane "Jason Voorhees" Hodder. A small, but incredible, cast of actors really push FROZEN ahead of the horror pack in 2010.


- Joe was upset that Dan brought Parker to ski with them, when it was just a thing between he and Dan. Dan better watch his back if this film is any indication.

- Joe got pushed by a guy for touching his girlfriend. Apparently, Iceman attracts a lot of hotheads.

- The trio were discussing what would be the worst way to die as they were stuck on the ski lift. The worst way to die for me is being James Brolin. Two words: Barbara Streisand. Memories like the corners of my mind...that I would like to forget, thank you!

- The trio had to suffer through a bad snowstorm while on the ski life. Looks like Halle Berry was PMSing that Shawn Ashmore got a cool secret assignment. It's not his fault she was assigned CATWOMAN!

- Dan contemplated jumping off the lift to find help, even when he knew he could hurt himself due to the height. I don't know if I would've done what he was thinking of doing. That's a lot of AIR, BUD!

- Joe was freezing to death. Looks like he got the cure after the events of X-MEN: THE LAST STAND. What a wuss!

In a pretty crummy year for horror films, FROZEN is a breath of cold, fresh air. With tight direction, believable acting, and a simple yet effective narrative, I would recommend this film to anyone who wants to watch a psychologically chilling horror film. FROZEN is proof that the indie scene is where the good horror is at these days. Definitely check it out if you haven't already.

3.5 Howls Outta 4


ORIGINAL vs. REMAKE - The Crazies (1973 & 2010)

George A. Romero (1973)
Breck Eisner (2010)

Will MacMillian - David
Lane Carroll - Judy

Harold Wayne
Jones - Clank
Lloyd Hollar - Col. Peckem

Lynn Lowry - Kathy

Richard Liberty - Artie

Richard France - Dr. Watts

Timothy Olyphant - David Dutton
Radha Mitchell - Judy Dutton

Joe Anderson - Russell Clank

Danielle Panabaker - Becca Darling

Genre - Horror/Zombie/Viral Outbreak/Remake

Running Time - 103 Minutes (1973)/101 Minutes (2010)

If there was ever a list of influential directors in the horror genre, George A. Romero would have to be on it. While his latest films have left a lot to be desired, no one can dispute that 1968's NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD changed horror, especially the zombie sub-genre, forever. With his intelligent screenplays and social commentary, Romero turned the monster story into a thinking-man's platform.

Even though he's known mainly for his ...OF THE DEAD films, Romero has cranked out some underrated gems not dealing with zombies. For example, 1976's MARTIN, 1981's KNIGHTRIDERS, 1989's MONKEY SHINES, and probably his most popular, 1982's CREEPSHOW. And then there's 1973's THE CRAZIES, a film that pretty much bombed when it was released and mainstream audiences had forgotten about until the 2010 remake was announced. With its themes of biochemical warfare and government distrust, THE CRAZIES seems to resonate more these days than it did 37 years ago. But does it still hold up? Is the remake a better film or just pointless? In the official return of "Original vs. Remake", we'll see how the two films stack up against each other.

Both versions of THE CRAZIES seem to tell the same story: In a small town (1973 - Evans City, Pennsylvania; 2010 - Odgen Nash, Iowa), there's mass hysteria as a quarantined is in effect due to the release of Trixie, the code name of a deadly virus. This bacteria seems to either murder the infected, or turn them insane. Because of the outbreak, these cities become war zones as the military [in gas masks] shoot and burn anyone considered a threat. When a group of survivors try to escape, they must deal with the fact that eventually each one of them will succumb to the virus.

The difference in each version is that the 1973 THE CRAZIES is more focused on the military and their incompetence to find a cure and keep the virus from spreading outside the quarantine. The 2010 THE CRAZIES is more concerned with the residents and their struggle to escape quarantine and the virus.



George A. Romero's THE CRAZIES is a decent horror flick that was ahead of its time. The idea of biochemical warfare is something audiences probably relate more to today than back in the early 70s. Romero allows us to see both sides of this issue: the human side that doesn't understand what's going on and must struggle to figure it out in order to survive, and the government side that wants to find a cure while trying to cover their asses by any means necessary at the same time. It creates an interesting contrast, as we see all sides of this viral mess. However the balance is a bit flawed, proving that THE CRAZIES is a case where less should've been more.

I think the main issue with THE CRAZIES is the usage of Romero's social commentary. Now I like watching Romero's films because there's more to the story than what we see on the surface. His films are always ABOUT something and once it ends, it leaves you thinking about the message he's sending out. For THE CRAZIES, Romero was obviously disgruntled about the government and their handling of the Vietnam War, as well as the Watergate Scandal that took the world by storm around this time. In the film, the military personnel come across as confused, incompetent, and just downright shady - murdering people infected with the virus to cover up their mess and somehow eventually enjoying their actions in doing so. It's gritty, edgy, and absolutely realistic and I have no issue that Romero wanted to explore the dark side of our government. But the fact is that Romero seems to push the message a bit too hard on his audience. We get a lot of scenes where a doctor is finding a cure and going ballistic on his superiors when they refuse to listen or even care. We get a lot of scenes of soldiers and government officials irritating each other with their confusion and lack of action and knowledge, which irriates us at the same time and not in a good way. There's just too many of these scenes and most of them don't really move the story along all that much. Personally, I found a lot of them to be boring. I know Romero wanted to create a deeper story than what's on the surface, but hammering the commentary into your audience over and over again isn't the way to do it. It'll just alienate them to the point where they'll want to watch something else. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD worked because while the social commentary was obviously on civil right issues, the film was still about zombies wanting to kill a small group of survivors. Romero didn't need to tell us that. We knew just by watching the story unfold and how the characters interacted with each other. The message never overshadowed the true purpose of the film. THE CRAZIES suffers because it's not subtle in what it's trying to say. The focus should have been more on the survivors rather than the people who caused this problem to begin with. Let the audience figure out the message. We don't need it forced upon us. We have the media for that.

Luckily, Romero has his scenes with the survivors which keeps audiences captivated until the very end. Obviously audiences can relate with characters who distrust the government and feel as if they're victims of their actions and reactions. Sure, the characterizations aren't all that great to be honest, but they still come off as likeable. Plus, knowing and watching how each one of them starts to become mad is pretty fun. I feel that the characters from the earlier ...OF THE DEAD films are more complex, but you were invested in the relationships of these unfortunate citizens through their actions and their thought processes. I mean, that scene where the father seduces his own daughter and eventually rapes her under the effects of the virus is pretty edgy, even for today, and shows the deterioration of not only these characters, but society as a whole underneath a messed up government. Honestly, I wish the film was more about these characters than on the annoying military stuff because I found the survival instincts more interesting than how to cure the damn thing.

George A. Romero is a fine director and makes use of his low budget to create a gritty and visceral film at times. I do feel that the low budget sort of hinders the story Romero wants to tell, but his direction works for the most part. The editing is good and the cinematography is pretty decent as well. The gore sequences aren't over-the-top gory, but it works in a low budget way. I do think he tried to balance too many sub-plots within 100 minutes because the film feels a bit disjointed at times [was never really sure who were the more important characters here - the goverment officials, the military, or the citizens who end up being despensible anyway]. But everything is shot and handled competently enough and like I mentioned, uses his limited budget in the right away.

The acting is mixed. Will MacMillian and Lane Carroll are pretty good as David and Judy. They play their roles pretty straight and are very convincing as the leads. Harold Wayne Jones is also good as Clank, who really becomes interesting to watch once he goes gun crazy on the military and succumbs to the virus. Richard Liberty, who would eventually play Dr. Logan in Romero's 1985's DAY OF THE DEAD, doesn't do much but seduce and rape his daughter, cult favorite Lynn Lowry [who plays her insanity in a subtle, but believable way]. Lloyd Hollar is pretty on the radar as Col. Peckem, playing a stereotypical role pretty stereotypically. And Richard France as Dr. Watts is so over the top with his performance that I didn't believe him for a second. If the film had a cheesy and campy tone to it, it would have fit right in. But amongst all the seriousness, it sticks out like a sore thumb. But overall, the cast isn't all that bad, although it could have been better if the budget allowed it.


Brett Eisner's remake of THE CRAZIES gets rid of the commentary [which is ironic since it resonates more now than it has ever before] and sticks with a standard thriller about a small group of friends who are trying to understand and escape the Trixie virus and the government officials who want to get rid of them to cover their mess up. For that alone, I was more into this remake than into the original. Would have I liked a deeper narrative like the one in the original? Absolutely. But I'm actually glad the remake is kept to a more single, simplier structure. Compared to Romero's version, the remake is more basic and focused.

I think an improvement, in my opinion, is keeping the number of main characters to a minimum. We have four main characters in the remake and we're given enough time to connect with each one. Sure, the character development could have been stronger [name and occupation seems to be the way to go here], but the journey these characters take and the decisions they make tell quite a bit about who these characters are. I think what also helps is that each character seems to have a relationship to the other. From David and Judy's marriage [they were just boyfriend and girlfriend in the original, plus Judy was a nurse as opposed to being a doctor here - gotta love woman's lib], to David and Clank's relationship as Sheriff and Deputy, to Judy's relationship with co-worker Becca, these are people who know each other well and it's interesting to watch what they do when they start going crazy on others and on each other. I feel that Romero had too many characters in his version and it sort of watered down the tense and scary nature of the situation. So having less people to focus on is a definite improvement.

I also like that we don't know much about the situation until near the end of the film. In the original, we're given a lot of information right away, especially about the Trixie virus. It takes away some of the suspense from the film for me. I like a film to build mystery before giving us answers. In the remake, we don't really know what's really going on until an hour into the movie, giving people who may not have seen the original and know what's going on a chance to figure it out on their own.

I do have issues with the narrative though. For one, Judy's pregnancy doesn't seem like much of an issue during the entire film. I would think that if a deadly virus is going around, the concern for my unborn child would be a huge deal. But it's never really brought up or remotely mentioned during the escape sequences. And it doesn't effect the character towards the end either. She doesn't miscarry or even has cramps. Was she even pregnant? Ladies, help me out!

Also, I wish the military presence was more visible in the film. It's funny that the original had too much of them, but the remake had too little. And there weren't enough "Crazies" to compensate for it. At least what was shown stayed true to the original pretty much, with the guys in the gas masks and stuff. Plus the very explosive ending [wink wink] was nice to see as well.

The direction by Brett Eisner worked for me. I liked how he slowly built up suspense, which would later bring a nice level of violence and blood to the proceedings. I think the car wash scene where the four main characters are trapped and fighting for their lives is the most tense scene in the film and it works really well. I do think the last act fumbles a bit, with moments that left me scratching my head [Judy drinking water which is probably contaminated and Dave leaving her alone to stock up on food and weapons], but Eisner overall does a good job creating a feeling of isolation and vulnerability. I also dug the irony of the cinematography at times. When things are happy and normal, the picture is a bit washed out. When things get worse, the colors become brighter and more polished. It's an interesting visual style. I'm also glad Eisner did his own thing instead of rehashing the original. It does what a good remake should do - take elements of its source material and use them in different ways while telling the same story. It's just a faster paced film than Romero's was and more about how the virus effected the citizens. I found this version more appealing than the original.

The acting is the best thing about the remake. Timothy Olyphant is an underrated actor who turns a mediocre, cliched role as Sheriff David and turns him into a deeply heroic, likeable character. He has a great presence and charisma that more famous actors lack at times. Radha Mitchell was also good as Judy, even though she doesn't do as much as Olyphant. But they shared a nice, comfortable chemistry with each other and I bought their relationship. Joe Anderson is very good as Clank, David's Deputy. His descent into madness is believable and he shares even better chemistry with Olyphant than Mitchell does. And Danielle Panabaker as Becca is pretty much the obligatory four wheel/teenager who doesn't really add much to the film. But she does what she can with the role. A very solid cast, I thought.


- A man murdered his wife and tried to do the same with his kids. I guess this is TLC's newest reality program: Jon Minus Kate Plus Eight!

- One of the military doctors asked if the clinic had more syringes. If they had first gone to Courtney Love's house, this wouldn't be an issue.

- The virus is called "Trixie". I don't see why adults were so worried about this. After all, Trix(ie) is for kids!

- The military burns the crazy to erase any sort of evidence of this viral mess. If Beavis is still looking for a job involving fire, he should go to Evans City, Pennsylvania!

- Kathy's father felt no one deserved to have her innocence, as she'll always be Daddy's Little Girl. It's like Hulk Hogan's relationship with his daughter Brooke, except with less incest.

- A guy walked on the baseball field with a shotgun. If Pittsburgh had played better, this kind of shit wouldn't happen!

- Bill set his wife and kid on fire. Someone took Blue Oyster Cult's "Burnin' For You" a bit too seriously.

- A buzzsaw stopped just right in front of David's crotch. That almost took some balls. Literally.

- Some crazy dude kept stabbing people with a pitchfork. That is, like, so HALLOWEEN 5! And besides, couldn't he have picked a better HALLOWEEN sequel? He definitely lost his damn mind!

- Dave got ambused by a pissed off mother and son tag team. He's pretty unskilled for a HITMAN, in my honest opinion.

Both versions of THE CRAZIES are worth a look. If you want a more historical, intelligent, and slow building movie - or just want to see a George A. Romero film that hardly gets talked about - then the 1973 original is for you. If you want to see a more thrilling, gorier, well-acted, fast-paced horror flick, the 2010 remake is right up your alley. Personally, I think the remake is the better film entertainment wise, but the original is more thought-provoking. Either way, give either one of these films a shot. They're the cure for any mental disorder.


2.5 Howls Outta 4

3 Howls Outta 4


THE CRAZIES (1973) - Trailer

THE CRAZIES (2010) - Trailer
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