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Film / Frozen (2010)

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If you don't want to be wolf chow,
hold on tight and don't let it go.

Frozen is a 2010 survival horror film, written and directed by Adam Green (Hatchet) and starring Emma Bell, Kevin Zegers, Shawn Ashmore, and Kane Hodder.

Three young snowboarding friends — Dan, his girlfriend Parker, and his best friend Joe — travel to a ski resort to enjoy a day on the slopes. They convince the ski lift operator to grant them one last pass down the mountain before the resort closes for a long weekend, but due to a miscommunication, the ski lift gets turned off while they're still on it, and they get stranded.

Over 50 feet in the air, and with no rescue coming for five days, the three are forced to make daunting choices in order to prevent death from hypothermia or the wolves prowling on the grounds beneath them.

Frozen was shot entirely practically, meaning that the three lead actors were truly suspended in the air on the side of a real mountain. To shoot the three on the ski lift, Adam Green and his cinematographer had to do the filming themselves because the camera crew hired for the film was too nervous to work at the heights of the ski lift. Green had also never set foot on a ski resort in his life before making the film, and had a crippling fear of heights.

Not to be confused with the Disney animated film, Frozen.

This movie has examples of:

  • Bittersweet Ending: Parker survives, but her boyfriend Danny and her friend Joe are mauled to death and eaten by a wolf pack, and she will be forever traumatized by this accident. The resolution of her story is eventually shared in Adam Green's later film Hatchet II, where she cameos on the news talking about how she will be suing the ski resort company and never go skiing ever again.
  • Braving the Blizzard: The heroes get marooned on a chair-lift during a terrible snowstorm. Completely trapped, they slowly succumb to the elements, and the main character is shown suffering severe frostbite.
  • Cell Phones Are Useless: Not useless, the characters just left them in their lockers. A case of Shown Their Work, as many skiers tend to leave their phones in lockers because they are easy to break/lose on resort mountains, and in 2009 when the film was made, many resorts were infamous for having spotty reception.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Dan jumps, sustaining naked compound fractures of both legs, but that's not what kills him...the wolves eating him alive is what does the trick.
  • Despair Event Horizon: The reason Dan jumps in the first place.
  • Deus ex Machina: The chair comes loose from the main cable with Parker in it, but is caught by a single tether cable before it falls all the way down, allowing her to drop from a safe height to the ground. The chair then falls on her leg, injuring it, but she still manages to get down the hill.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: Pretty much everyone but Parker either dies or is never seen again after a brief appearance.
  • Didn't Think This Through: The main characters from the get-go, starting with having no lift tickets, riding the lift so close to closing time right before a storm, and of course Dan thinking that he can jump 40 or 50 some-odd feet from the lift chair.
  • Don't Look At Me: A sad variation. As the wolves close in on him to eat him alive, Dan orders Joe not to let Parker watch.
  • Dying Dream: Subverted. In the end, when a car picks up Parker from the side of the road, we hear Dan's voice talking to her (reassuring her she was going to be okay) as she closes her eyes. Thus, it can be ambiguous as to whether or not she survived or died. However, in Hatchet II, Parker is on the news talking about her lawsuit against the ski resort.
  • Exposed to the Elements: The main thing making it so hard to hunker down and wait for rescue is the freezing cold, causing injuries like frostbite and skin sticking to metal.
  • Final Girl: Parker is the only one to make it out alive.
  • Foreshadowing: Everything that happens or is said during the Developing Doomed Characters part of the film ends up being foreshadowing.
    • When Dan says that the worst way to die would be being eaten by a shark and knowing that it was going to happen beforehand, it seems to foreshadow his later death. As he lays on the ground defenseless, he sees all the wolves surrounding him, and he knows that he's screwed and going to die a brutal death. It's why his last wish is for Joe to prevent Parker from looking and not watch him die.
    • Parker's talk about how horrible the situation had to be that you know jumping would be better.
    • While the trio are trying to get onto the ski lift at the start of the film, an overhead announcement reminds skiers that the resort will be open again next Friday though Sunday. When they're trapped on the lift, Parker starts to panic as she remembers this, and realises they'll be stuck there all week.
    • Earlier that same day when the trio, along with other people that are on the ski lifts, it briefly stops.
  • Gallows Humor: The trio sometimes engage in this (notably when Joe is trying to keep Dan calm after he breaks his legs), leading to a few Mood Whiplash moments.
  • Gory Discretion Shot:
    • While Dan is eaten alive by wolves, the camera focuses on Parker and Joe's faces. In a deleted and uncut scene, we see a much more gory and upfront view of the scene as the wolves devour Dan's insides as Parker and Joe are also seen wailing in grief at Dan's death.
  • The Hero Dies: Dan, sort of. He is a nice guy, has a heroic attitude and is the first person to take action to find a way out of their predicament. Ultimately though, his idea of jumping from the chair is hare-brained and incapacitates him before he can accomplish anything. Then of course he lies helpless as the wolves finish him off.
  • Hollywood New England: There are multiple little indicators thrown around to make it known that the story takes place in Massachusetts/New England, but it's not too hard to tell that it's California Doubling.
  • Hope Spot: Two.
    • When the guy driving the snowplow appears. Unfortunately he doesn't see or hear the trio and is called by a ski resort employee to come back.
    • When Joe manages to make it off the lift and fend off the wolves with a ski pole. He runs off to get help, promising Parker he'll be back, but the wolves catch up to him offscreen.
  • Idiot Ball: Everyone at some point, but certainly Dan for attempting a jump from the lift chair, at a height far too high to be safe even to a casual viewer. The characters fail to even wear their gear correctly (such as zipping up their jackets or pulling up their hoods) and toss away multiple useful items in futile attempts to be rescued or shoo off wolves.
    • Climbing along the chairlift cable to the pole with the ladder is clearly a better idea than jumping from the height of the chair. If one of them had tried this first and then had the sense not to climb down the pole while the wolves were circling there's a good chance all three of them could have escaped unharmed.
  • If We Get Through This…: Joe states, semi-facetiously, that after their ordeal is over he’s going to marry the girl who gave him her phone number. He winds up dying before this can happen.
  • Injured Self-Drag: After spending days freezing alive on a ski lift, suffering from a bad hand injury, and eventually falling and breaking her legs, Parker is able to fight long enough to drag herself down the mountain. She does eventually collapse, but only once she's at the road, and a truck picks her up.
  • Jump Scare: The first wolf appearance.
  • Killed Offscreen: Both Dan and Joe, although the former is technically a Sound-Only Death.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Both men die while the woman lives.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: What the heck are a pack of wolves doing at a ski resort in New England? Also, why did they only come out at night?
  • Must Have Nicotine: Parker is so set on having a smoke in the middle of the situation that she fumbles and drops a glove off the lift chair in the process: any and all gear being vital due to the freezing conditions.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You…: Averted; it's not the fall or the impact of hitting the ground that kill Dan and Joe, but the Savage Wolves that devour them after they're injured from the fall. Parker survives both the fall and the arduous crawl to the road.
  • Oblivious Janitor Cut: The snowcat driver who comes within feet of the main characters and never sees them or has any idea they're there.
  • Oh, Crap!: Dan, when he hears the wolf howling.
  • Plot Hole: The three suffer through a snowstorm during the night, yet when the next morning comes, the hills are covered in snowboard and ski tracks.
  • Potty Failure: Parker is eventually forced to urinate in her ski suit.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: The director investigated multiple ways of trying to escape said situation before filming and incorporated the difficulties he discovered into the story.
    • People complained that people could never be forgotten on a chairlift... but it has actually happened. In truth, many ski resorts take extra steps to prevent such incidents from happening, like stopping loading after marking a chair with a cone or by flipping up the seats of every chair after a certain last chair, or simply having an employee ride the lift in a full loop. The operator does place a red flag on one of the chairs and tells his relief about Parker, Dan and Joe, but doesn't mention there was another group ahead them, so when the replacement attendant sees three skiers at the bottom and assumes they were the skiers he was talking about, he shuts down the lift. note 
    • The wolves' behavior is realistic, too...for European wolves, which have a history dating back to the Black Death of attacking and occasionally devouring unarmed humans. American wolves have extremely few recorded attacks on people, have no history of eating them (and thus never learned that humans = food) and far prefer to avoid humans over eating them. It wouldn't have saved Dan, who was gravely injured and going into shock, but it certainly would have saved Joe. The director was inspired to include the wolves after reading an article about a couple of lost skiers being stalked by wolves in British Columbia.
    • Dan warns Joe about the ski lift cable being "razor-sharp". So sharp that when Joe attempts to climb across them for the first time, it managed to cut through his thick leather ski gloves and draw blood. In actuality, while the cable could probably damage the gloves due to friction, there no way (or indeed reason) that an actual ski lift cable is sharp enough to cut through thick gloves as well as the skin.
    • The Mythbusters later tested the idea that they could have climbed down directly using a makeshift rope made from their clothes or ziplining. They found this to be a very poor idea, as invariably the clothes ripped or the climber's strength gave out before they had descended to a safe distance.
  • Savage Wolves: A number of predatory wolves are waiting to devour the protagonists. Ultimately, they eat Dan and then Joe. This might be unintentionally hilarious if you know something about wolf body language, as many of the "savage" wolves are shown wagging their tails, a friendly gesture among adult wolves.note 
  • Senseless Sacrifice : Dan jumps down from the ski lift and breaks his legs. He's then devoured by wolves that none of them had any idea were there and Dan had overestimated his abilities. It was all for nothing.
  • Shout-Out: At one point the trio discusses what the worst way to die would be, with two suggestions being the Sarlacc pit and being surrounded by sharks and knowing they're going to eat you.
  • Sickening "Crunch!": Can be heard when Dan breaks his legs... and again, repeatedly, when he's desperately trying to reach for the makeshift tourniquets thrown down to him.
  • Smoking Is Not Cool: Joe gives Parker shit about smoking cigarettes, although it's revealed he's a hypocritical pothead himself.
  • Stuck on a Ski Lift: The basic premise of the movie.
  • Take That!: The guy on the 'Missing' poster is a crew member on Adam Green's former movies who couldn't join him for the filming of Frozen.
  • Tempting Fate: Joe makes a joke about taking on wolves. Later in the movie, he is killed by them.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Much of the problems the trio face and the situation they find themselves can be summed up as "because they barely have a brain cell between all of them":
    • To start with, none of them suggest that it's probably not a good idea to take one last run, at night, when there's a storm on the way, the resort is closing early as a result (and will stay closed for the next four days regardless) and the ski lift attendants will presumably be eager to clock out and go home. Even if they had successfully gotten off the lift at the top before it shut down, they could very well have gotten lost or injured in the storm, or when the floodlights were turned off, or else they would have had to drive home in terrible weather conditions.
    • Nobody tries to rearrange their gear to better protect their exposed skin from the cold, or even simply zip up their coats. Joe couldn't even be bothered to pull up his hood. This is especially bad with Parker, who loses one of her gloves and ends up accidentally putting her hand on the metal railing after falling asleep, causing it to freeze.
    • Dan's decision to jump is not a good idea, but he might have come out of it with relatively minor injuries had he not a) jumped in the uphill direction, and b) landed feet first, knees locked. He also could have jumped for the nearest tree, which would have helped cushion his fall. He also just sits there instead of crawling up to the snowboard behind him and use that to get down, and doesn't try to put up any fight against the wolves.
    • Though Joe does eventually succeed in making it to the ladder on the support pole, he utterly destroys his hands on the overhead steel cable getting there. Never does he consider using his ski pole instead of his hands to hold on to the cable, or at least turning his gloves around when the cable eats through them. Then, he climbs down the ladder while the wolves are standing at the bottom of it. He even uses a snowboard to try sliding down the mountain, instead of his skis that he could have collected and used to ski down much faster and likely outrun the wolves.
    • When Parker manages to get down and makes it to the road, she immediately lays down in the middle of it. Luckily the van that eventually comes by swerves to avoid running her over. And in fairness, Parker was mentally and physically exhausted at that point.
  • Torture Porn: All of the suffering, death, and trauma the characters go through, all for illegal entry into and getting one last ride at a ski resort as it was closing.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer (and the back of the DVD cover) spoils the fact that Parker ends up crawling through the snow but doesn't show her fate.
  • Tuckerization: Dan and Joe are named after two of Adam Green's own friends.
  • Upper-Class Twit: All three of the main characters are spoiled college kids from Massachusetts. They are so self-destructively inept at survival in the wild that it's cringy to watch.
  • You Should Have Died Instead: Parker more or less implies this about Joe, which she quickly gets called out for. Somewhat justified, as she's grief-stricken at the time, and she apologises afterwards.