I finally watched this little gem of a movie last night. It had a great cast including Emma Bell (The Walking Dead, Final Destination 5) in what I think was her film debut. The movie also stars Shawn Ashmore (X-Men, The Following) and Kevin Zegers (Wrong Turn, Dawn of the Dead). I thought all their performances were strong and believable.
I’ve been aware of this movie for a while now and honestly just put off watching it because it’s about 3 people stuck on ski lift. That doesn’t leave much room for any action, gore or monsters and ghosts. All the things I love about horror probably weren’t going to be in this movie. I love a good story but it doesn’t matter how good or how emotional the story is if it doesn’t include action, gore or some kind of monster, it’s going to be a bad horror movie. Fortunately, this movie is more than just a good solid story. It does gore, action and some monsters. Not monsters in the literal sense but rather monsters that come in the form of nature and animals.
Not too long ago I watched Digging Up The Marrow (2014) by Adam Green and I was reminded that he wrote and directed this movie. I really enjoyed Digging Up The Marrow so I made sure to put Frozen back on the list and I am so glad I did. This movie did a lot of things right and I appreciated that. Nothing frustrates me than when characters do stupid things. Or worse, when you have a character that is intentionally written to be the films douchebag. They are always written in full on douchery mode. All douche, all the time. People aren’t like that. Even the worst humans beings have some level of humanity.
A prime example of a character that is obviously written to be the films douchebag is Shawn Ashmore’s character Joe Lynch. He has some strong douchebag moments but he isn’t full on douchebag in every scene. He’s got some heart and I loved that. This is a character based film and Shawn Ashmore’s character could have killed the movie if he was written as a jerk in every scene. Had that been the case you’d be looking forwarding to seeing bad things happen to him and in a film about survival you have to care about the characters.
Shawn Ashmore’s best scene came when he was defending himself to Emma Bell’s character. Her character was beginning to blame him for something bad that had happened. Shawn Ashmore’s Joe Lynch stands up for himself in an honest, brutal way. His performance was spot on, I felt like cheering for him in that moment. But then, you have the reactions of Emma Bell’s Parker and it just raises the scene to a whole other level. Brilliantly played by both. Honestly, that scene was at Academy Award level. It was that good.
All the things I thought would make this film boring weren’t there. I thought there would be a lot of pointless dialog, no action, and the suspense would eventual turn into pure boredom. So glad to say that all of my predictions were wrong. I’m not often wrong but I happily admit that I was about this movie. An interesting but simple story with believable characters, a little gore and some nice cringe worthy moments. If you haven’t seen this, it’s well worth taking the time for.
Now there are some things in the movie that I felt could have been done better. The special effects could have been better. Not all of the special effects were bad. Most were done very well. I don’t want to give anything away so I will just say that a couple of the really important effects looked really fake and to be honest took me out of the moment a little. One of the most cringe worthy scenes was almost ruined by some special effects that just simply looked fake.
As the story goes, I only really have two issues with it. The first issue has to do with a decision one of character makes in an attempt to save the day. It wasn’t so much what he did that I had a problem with, it was more that he did it so soon. I just didn’t feel the urgency at that point in the film for a such an extreme act. In fact, my first thought was to do exactly what another character does later on in the movie because it was a good solid idea and had less risk involved. So it was a little frustrating to see one of our heroes attempting the most extreme and risky solution first.
The other issue I have I guess isn’t so much a problem with the story itself. It’s how it ended it that bothered me. A good ending is so important. And, I see so many movies that opt for an unfinished ending and bad endings can ruin a movie. This ending, didn’t ruin the movie but it left me feeling unfulfilled. When you spend an hour and a half getting to know the characters in a film that all about character development, you need to have a good sense of closure. This film lacked that. The film would have played so much better with, at the very least, a montage at the end. Something showing the survivor or survivors (Don’t want to give away the ending) being rushed into the hospital and treated, followed maybe a news headline or two, “Three friends stranded on a ski lift for days!”. Something that showed not only highlighted their survival but also made that justice was surved. Maybe a news clip of a reporter saying that arrests have been in the ski lift tragedy. I felt the audience deserved full closure at the end it just wasn’t there.
Overall the movie was entertaining and well worth the watch despite my nitpicking. Emma Belle was exceptional in it. One scene in particular with her stood out to me. Emma Bell’s Parker had to finally give in a little, do something that was obviously terribly embarrassing for her. A lessor actress wouldn’t have been able to pull off the feelings of embarrassment and shame that she did. I felt it with her. Such a simple scene and she made me feel it. Shawn Ashmore had the “duchebag” roll and didn’t over play it. He came off as a real person and someone you could root for. Kevin Zegers gave a solid performance as Emma’s characters boyfriend. And, once again Adam Green, the writer and director, delivers the goods.
Cast of Characters:
Emma Bell as Parker O’Neill
Shawn Ashmore as Joe Lynch
Kevin Zegers as Dan Walker
Rileah Vanderbilt as Shannon
Ed Ackerman as Jason
Adam Johnson as Rifkin
Christopher York as Ryan
Peder Melhuse as Driver
Kane Hodder as Cody
Will Barratt as Sullivan
Adam Green as Guy on Chairlift #1
Joe Lynch as Guy on Chairlift #2
Cody Blue Snider as Twisted Sister fan in cafeteria