Not to be confused with the Disney film of 2013 what so ever, this is the taut and engaging thriller that harkens back to the days of Hitchcock and Spielberg’s Jaws. Director Adam Green’s film has become one of very few modern films that actually delve into the concept of suspense quite effectively. Some critics have been unfairly harsh on its premise: a group of three friends get stuck 50 feet above the ground on a ski-lift with no one around to help them.
For some reason, some people feel that getting stuck or trapped on one of these things is an easily escapable situation. There have been a number of cases of people falling off these lifts, and in one instance, a bystander nearly choking to death when his backpack strap was caught on a bar when he slipped off the lift. In this fictionalized event, a trio (a strong 3-character play by Emma Bell, Shawn Ashmore [the X-Men films], & Kevin Zegers) that takes pride in cutting around corners run into more than they bargained for. The script accomplishes a lot in its first act by establishing each character’s personality and their strengths/weaknesses before the trouble starts. When the audience finally arrives at the ‘Hitchcock Lifeboat scenario,’ there is a great deal of sympathy for these carefree youngsters. After all, we are all prone to mistakes in life, especially when we want to get away from it all. The three encounter some of the worst dangers imaginable in this environment: blizzards, frostbite, hungry wolves below, lack of water, and even claustrophobia on a high location.
The audience will try to put himself/herself in this situation; weighing on avenues of escape. The story is aware of the audience’s commitment to these characters, so every idea is exercised. Each has a reward, but an equally horrifying consequence. By the third act, these characters are so weak and sickly that luck and faith are the only things left for them. That is ultimately the point of the film: sometimes no matter what we do— luck and Fate seem to have other ideas. A wonderful examination of survival and perseverance.