I'm tweaking a previous review here, but giving it a bit more context. I was fortunate enough to see this at Butt-Numb-A-Thon (BNAT) in Austin (held at the Alamo Drafthouse) in December 2009, about a month before it made a more official bow at Sundance. This film played roughly 2/3 of the way through our 24-hour cinematic journey (roughly 2am) - the 8th film out of a total 12 - and was sandwiched between Jean-Pierre Jeunet's then-new film Micmacs and the banned Shaw Brothers flick Centipede Horror. (NOTE: Centipede Horror is not to be confused with Tom Six's The Human Centipede; Centipede Horror has REAL centipedes, not to mention flaming zombie chickens.) We'd had a couple of mild forays into semi-horror already that evening, with Shutter Island and The Lovely Bones, and everyone expected great things from Adam Green, the guy who made Hatchet and who showed up and braved a probably very ripe-smelling and farty room to personally introduce the film to us.
As with most of the films over the 24 hours, this one was preceded by some appropriate vintage trailers.
The Ski Bum
Hot Dog: The Movie
I love the Alamo Drafthouse.
So anyway ... FROZEN.
This movie is about three young people - a guy, his girlfriend, and his best friend - who go for a short ski trip. They spend most of the day on the bunny slopes, because the girlfriend is not an experienced skier, and the guys decide to go up again that evening by themselves to do some real skiing. After some arguments and hurt feelings, however, the girlfriend ends up going with them, and they get stuck on the chair lift while the place shuts down for the week.
Okay, so let's get the implausibilities out of the way, because they are many and pretty egregious. These kids must have driven a car to this place (though it's possible they took a shuttle). If they drove, someone would have noticed an extra car and asked whose it was, realizing that someone could still be on the mountains, possibly even trying to get a free night's stay or extra skiing they didn't pay for. Second, no skiing establishment is that lackadaisical about people being on the chair lift or on the mountain. You wouldn't be able to bamboozle someone into letting you on the chair lift without paying in the first place, and you certainly wouldn't have one solitary chair lift operator be the final word in whether everyone was down from the lift and the mountain. There are way too many precautions in place at ski resorts for what happens in this movie to happen. Third, wolves don't hang out where there are loads of people skiing.
HOWEVER. Forget about all that for a minute. What if you DID get stuck on a chair lift and there was no way down and no one would find you for several days? If you take it from there, this is a pretty fantastic scary movie about the series of bad decisions you might make in the huge effort to get out alive. Decisions that are bound to be further hampered by the extreme cold weather and its effect on your brain.
The first huge mistake is made when the boyfriend decides to try and jump down, however much it might injure him. Well, it injures him a hell of a lot. Both his legs snap (there were some excellent sound effects in this film, by the way), and when he tries to move himself, he just injures himself exponentially more and more. A wolf finds him and eventually leaves after a stare-down, but this is not a victory for our poor broken-legged hero. Oh no. The wolf went and got a few friends and they proceed to eat him alive while his girlfriend and best friend can only listen to his screams and do their best not to watch from above. This was fairly affecting to me, actually, as the guy screams to his best friend not to dare let the girlfriend look. Story issues aside, there was still some pretty great acting in this, I have to say.
The rest of the movie alternates between the girlfriend and best friend blaming each other, consoling each other, and making fresh attempts to get out of this situation. Strangely, they make little attempt to huddle together and actually keep each other warm, which might have been helpful. And I can't figure out why the girl, after losing one of her gloves, didn't pull her coat sleeve over her bare hand. That would have saved a lot of pain, especially when she wakes up with her bare hand frozen to the safety bar.
The movie manages to be very effective, though, despite it's implausibility issues, and was one of the better examples of audience reaction of the evening. A woman in our audience actually FAINTED during this movie (she was alright, by the way, just overcome by the movie, it seems). This was probably the most talked about film at the post-BNAT dinner and party. Several in our crowd were from Minnesota and had HUGE issues with its plausibility. But there was no doubt that it made an impact.
Regardless, though, if you can let go of the need for accuracy and credibility, it's a pretty dang good scary movie.