Adam Green is a genius. No more, no less - he's simply a brilliant young filmmaker, one whose maturation in his craft will surely be a joy to see. And not only his growth as an artist but his promising future as well are already apparent to see, even in his brief career of only four films and three in the horror genre thus far. Hatchet, Green's 2006 debut in the horror genre, is undoubtedly the best slasher film of the last decade, but, and I say this with no disrespect, slashers really are the fast-food burgers of the genre. They're good for a quick thrill and harmless as an occasional indulgence, but they're hardly the most fulfilling thing out there. Spiral, Green's 2007 follow up is a more mature film than Hatchet in every way, and it's tale of co-director and star Joel David Moore's slowly collapsing psyche is disturbing on many different levels. This brings us to Frozen, Green's latest film and the film that firmly cements his place in the pantheon of modern horror.
Frozen is a difficult movie to review because it's so minimalistic, but that's also its genius. There are essentially three main characters, one location, and a situation that is all the more terrifying for its vague plausibility. But out of this admittedly thin broth, Green alchemically produces tension worthy of Alfred Hitchcock and gore worthy of David Cronenberg. The setup is simple, as it always is with the best horror movies - three twenty-somethings try to squeeze in one last ski run before the mountain closes for the evening, but through human error on the part of the lift operator they are left trapped high in the air on the ski lift. With no safe way to escape and no chance whatsoever to survive the elements for the five days until the ski resort reopens the physical and mental health of the hapless trio declines with excruciating slowness, as Green tightens the screws one sadistic notch at a time. Inevitably, the situation snaps like an overwound piano wire, and sooner rather than later. Then things really get ugly.
Although Frozen is hardly the type of movie that anyone could expect to win an Oscar for, the three leads all put in more than creditable performances which truly drive home the horrific circumstances that they find themselves in. Kevin Zegers' Dan is the kind of guy whom everyone has known at one time or another, and no one has ever been able to decide whether to be happy for them or slap them. He's the kind of guy who meets a girl, falls madly in love, and promptly forgets that anyone else in the world exists, and while you might not necessarily like him you can definitely understand him. Shawn Ashmore's Lynch is another cliche which is both well used and used well - that of the resentful best friend. Again, this is not a character who will necessarily be liked - and with all the barbs both deserved and undeserved he slings, that not necessarily can be safely upgraded to probably not - but again, the viewer can easily grasp where he's coming from. The real standout of the protagonists is newcomer Emma Bell, an impressive young actress who likely has a lucrative career in the genre ahead of her if she can avoid the pitfalls of typecasting. Bell's Parker is easy to write off as a ditz, the kind of young woman who skates through life on her looks alone and enjoys playing the damsel in distress just a little too much, but when she's put under pressure she truly reveals hidden depths. Parker's panicked monologue about how her dog is alone at home and will likely starve to death if she doesn't make it home to feed her is the most harrowing scene in the movie, and in a movie that contains graphic compound fractures, attacks by wolves, and lots and lots of frostbite that's saying something.
Adam Green is definitely a director to watch, and it's not much of a stretch to say that he may well be the future of the horror genre. If Frozen is any indication, fans can look forward to Mr. Green having a long, lucrative, and cringe-inducing career.