Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Frozen and Making Every Scene Count: A Movie Review

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*full disclosure: a DVD screener of this film was provided by Arc Entertainment.

Director/writer: Andrew Hyatt.

Cast: Seth David Mitchell, Brit Morgan, and Noah Segan.

Tagline: "Pray for help."

The Frozen is an indie thriller from first time director Andrew Hyatt. The film deals with an argumentative couple who travel on a snowmobiling adventure. They hit a bump and a surreal element enters the picture. Slowly paced and anti-climactic, The Frozen still manages to stay mostly interesting. Thankfully, the ending offers a surprise. This film is a solid first step for an up-and-coming new director.

Mike (Seth David Mitchell) and Emma (Brit Morgan) are the couple setting out on their highland outing. They pick a terrible time to go hiking. It is Winter time and they have chosen an isolated locale to park their tent. This might be a bad choice for experienced hikers. Needless to say, Emma and Mike find some challenges out in the hills. Mike wipes out the snowmobile and Emma is determined to have a bad time. Then, a mysterious hunter (Noah Segan) begins to stalk this couple and strange dream sequences break up what little action there is onscreen.

Mike and Emma's relationship is at the core of this film. Their banter and bickering is somewhat humourous in the beginning of the film. But, it becomes clear that Emma is out for blood. Mike is sincere and flat, while the relationship seems to fizzle out. As a viewer, Mike and Emma are unbelievable as a couple. They would not last a month. Meanwhile, Emma is pregnant and Mike has marriage on his mind. It is a relief when Mike finally disappears. The arguing quietens and Emma realizes that she might not be suited for solo camping. The relationship between Mike and Emma is one of the weaker writing points in The Frozen.

The pacing is another element that was not taken to its fullest potential. The last half of the film relies on actress Brit Morgan ("True Blood") to hold the viewer's interest. She is mostly successful; however, the actress and the writing needed more self-dialogue to help understand Emma's inner workings. During these quiet moments, Emma is often sleeping, eating, or walking around in circles. These scenes are necessary once, but they become repetitive over time. Also, why would Emma try to start the snowmobile, if Mike was still trying to repair the vehicle? This scene comes across as filler. There are a number of scenes that seem to simply lengthen the film to its required 90 minute runtime. The pacing suffers because of this.

The climax is one final element that stood out for this viewer in The Frozen. The conclusion is anti-climactic. When the film is supposed to peak, a foot chase takes place. And, only one character is running. The chaser is simply walking. This watcher could not help but laugh at the strangeness of this scene. The final big reveal was slightly surprising. Yet, the film needed more action and a direct confrontation with an antagonist late in the film. Much of the conflict takes place on the periphery and this is a detriment to the film.

A number of critiques have been mentioned here; however, Hyatt's first film is still memorable. This is an indie film that is understandably smallish in nature. So, the focus here is on the acting and the relationships between characters. Emma is a strong female character and Hyatt captures all of her scenes competently. The music amplifies the action onscreen and the final late reveal was compelling. There are some low moments in this film, but there are also some moments of creativity and curiosity. Overall, The Frozen is recommended for patient fans of indie thrillers. The payoff will be worth it for most.

Overall: 6.75 out of 10 (more characters were needed early - even extras, it seems slightly dangerous and foolhardy to camp in Winter in a new area, the final reveal is interesting, there are also a few weak or unnecessary scenes).

*The Frozen releases on video-on-demand and DVD December 18th, 2012.

The film's fan page is here:

The Frozen on Facebook

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