The Unbearable Whiteness of Frozen

12/21/2010 4:22 PM |

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As the year in film draws to a close, Henry Stewart is scrambling to catch up with some of the movies he missed, so he can tell you whether to bump them up in your queue or feel guilt-free for deleting them. Today, he discusses Adam Green’s Frozen.

For us to sympathize with their terror and eventual slaughter, horror movie protagonists have to feel realistic. But, realistic for whom? There’s a fine line between sympathetic, identifiable, and odious. For those who complained about the schmucks fronting Cloverfield—who, for me, were likable, at least, by virtue of their recognizability—man, oh man: wait until you see Frozen‘s trio of entitled, whiter-than-white douchebags: selfish, whiny and mean skiers, fer Chrissakes, donning that ultimate signifier of Caucasoid privilege. They get trapped on a T-bar at night, after everyone of the hill has gone home for a long weekend. Whose fears does this set-up tap into but well-off WASPs?

Writer-director Green is better known for his Hatchet dyad and its gore-schlock pastiche. But there are no deformed rednecks seeking revenge here (though frequent Jason-Voorhees-portrayer Kane Hodder pops up in a small part): Green seems after something more classical, more rooted in suspense and suggestion…at least until one of the characters jumps out of the chair. From there, squirm-inducing obstacles arise: shin bones that poke out of pants; frostbite (“don’t rub your face or it’ll come off”); and wolves, who are apparently only afraid of people on days when the lodge is open for business—otherwise, they feel free to roam the grounds, day and night, terrorizing our stranded heroes. The characters must also deal with each other: they turn against one another with remarkable speed the moment they become stuck—almost as quick as they suddenly have to pee like the racehorses their families surely own.

As Frozen taps into primal, pre-civilization fears of cold, animals and nature-in-general, it fashions some kind of tension, I guess, in a tension-exercise kind of way. Still, it’s way more successful in its scary moments than its getting-to-know-you bits; in one, one character admits why, despite his ostensible kavorka, he has no girlfriend: one time he did, but…she liked another guy!! Even though they were like soulmates (his word)—both cited E.T. as their favorite film. (As the character tells this story, Green cues the string music on the word “insecure”.) Frankly, the sooner the wolves eat these people, the better.