Sunday, October 31, 2010

Candidate # 1


(January 2010)

Imagine being stranded on a ski lift, without anyone knowing you were there. Trapped way above the snow, in the dark, and the cold…
That’s the wickedly taut scenario writer-director Adam Green invites us to, not so much view, as actually partake in, in Frozen.

I’ve seen the term “experiential horror” being used to describe Frozen, and a bunch of other recent titles (like Buried and Devil), and that’s about as good a term as any. These are the sort of films that attempt to place the viewer in the situation they’re watching from the normally safe remove of their seats, films that strive to break the fourth wall by putting us alongside the narrative’s protagonists, to share their panic and terror. (All this without tacking on a few extra bits to the ticket price with that new-fangled whatchallit, 3D. Is that right? “Three-dee”?)

Now, if the best horror is meant to unsettle and disturb, then experiential horror ups that ante considerably, making the cinematic experience more horribly intimate by confining us in a circumscribed space, forcing us to undergo the suffering.

In Frozen, we’re on an open, swinging chair on a ski lift; in Devil, we’re in an elevator; in Buried, we’re trapped-- along with Ryan Reynolds-- in a coffin.

Given how intense Frozen is, I’m awfully curious to see how Devil and Buried will compare, particularly Buried, which is getting loads of attention, and took home this year’s Méliès d'Or Award for Best European Fantastic Film, edging out past ¡Qué Horror! titles like Tom Shankland’s The Children and Philip Ridley’s Heartless, to name just a pair of its eight competitors.

Whatever the case may turn out to be with Buried though, Green has a superbly crafted and distressingly disturbing film in Frozen, whose young cast (Kevin Zegers, Shawn Ashmore, and Emma Bell, who we’ll be seeing more of on The Walking Dead) hits all the right beats, from the casual to the tension-filled.

I haven’t seen Hatchet 2 yet, but even if I end up not going crazy for it, between Frozen and Spiral, Green has got some excellent-- and pretty formidable-- pieces on his track record.

(Frozen OS courtesy of; design by The Refinery.)

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