By Bryce J. Renninger | Indiewire February 4, 2010 at 7:29AM
Before a Sundance screening of his new film "Frozen," director Adam Green told his inspirational "making it" story. For Green, the key to success had a little bit to do with using the resources around him ("borrowing" cameras and equipment from his job making cable company commercials) and a little bit to do with having Twisted Sister's Dee Snider as a muse and inspiration. After meeting Snider in several public appearances, each time keeping him up-to-date with his progress as a filmmaker, Snider crashed the Tribeca premiere of Green's "Hatchet." "Hatchet" made Green a genre phenomenon and won him several awards at 2006's Fantastic Fest. "Frozen" premiered in the Park City at Midnight section at this year's Sundance. Less than two weeks after its Sundance premiere, "Frozen" will get a theatrical release. Horror fans across the web are wetting their pants in anticipation for this film, which, in fact, gives a whole new meaning and gravity to wetting (snow)pants.
Writing in Dread Central, Debi Moore puts "Frozen" in a genre category, "It seems like outdoor survival horror films aren't attempted as often as other subgenres, and I suspect it's because for every successful endeavor like 2003's excellent Open Water, there are multiple near misses such as The Ruins and outright failures like last year's The Canyon in which the characters either are so unlikable or do such stupid things that the audience loses interest or, even worse, roots from them to die." She concludes, "Green has crafted a potent combination of absolute terror and compelling human drama that will stick with you long after you've left the theatre or turned off the DVD."
FEARNet's Scott Weinberg also gushes about the film as a testament to what is possible within the genre, "The leads create a trio of characters who are slightly obnoxious at the outset, but become a lot more interesting (and therefore worthy of some sympathy) as their plight goes on. Beyond the fine performances, Frozen earns points by finding new and creepy ways to display the trio's treetop trial. We get angles from below the frigid chair-lift, as well as above, beside, inside, and (when things call for it) pretty up close and disturbingly personal. Shot well, moodily scored, cut tight, and impressively concise overall, Frozen is one of those horror thrillers that might not give you nightmares this evening -- but you'll definitely recall this freezing flick the next time you go skiing. "
It's not only writers at genre sites that are glowing; Rex Reed at the New York Observer starts his review by saying, "Prepare to be electrified. Frozen is a brilliantly conceived, gut-wrenching horror film about three vital, healthy, appealing and attractive skiers whose perfect snow day turns into a nightmare when they get stranded on the chair lift after dark. This is every skier’s worst fear, and the talented writer-director Adam Green gives it life in ways that will leave you impacted long after the 94 minutes of unrelenting suspense have ended. Calm and jaded as I am, I was left so paralyzed with terror by this movie that I chewed a whole pencil in half watching it."
Sam Adams, in Philadelphia's City Paper, bridges the gap between horror hardcores and a more general approach to film criticism saying in a more measured review, "Green has a reasonable grasp of genre mechanics, and the fact that the film was shot without recourse to digital effects adds immeasurably to the sense of peril, but he never succeeds in creating characters whose welfare strikes the slightest note of concern, or developing their plight beyond its superficial outlines. The see-sawing between would-be emotional moments and gross-out gore indicates that he’s uninterested in or unable to think beyond the moment, pushing his audience this way and that without deciding which path to take."
""Frozen" delivers enough thrills and gory chills to satisfy the horror film crowd, but is not written, directed or acted well enough to be a first-rate thriller. A great premise in which three friends are stranded on a chairlift in the dead of winter is squandered to satisfy the expectations of the genre," The Hollywood Reporter's disappointed James Greenberg notes. Tim Grierson, in Screen, suspects "Frozen" is "hoping to be a low-budget, word-of-mouth success along the lines of The Blair Witch Project or Paranormal Activity. More likely, though, Frozen will quickly cool off theatrically before moving to ancillaries."
Dread Central investigates claims of some funny things happening to people who see the film, "'there’s been an incident at all three screenings,' said Green. 'Somebody passed out in the Egyptian the first night, two people vomited during the second screening (one of whom came back into the theatre to finish the movie, which I thought was pretty cool), and then again as we were leaving last night, the theatre manager told us someone had passed out in the bathroom.'" Cinematical as an interview with Green in front of a snowy (and foreboding!) Park City backdrop.