A few years before Elsa was telling us all to "Let it Go", this was the film people would refer to if they ever asked you if you've seen 'Frozen'. Nowadays, this had been swept under the rug almost completely, because let's face it; "Have you ever seen 'Frozen'?" only ever seems to point to Disney's modern classic. This version is a harrowing survivor story involving three young adults stuck on a ski lift, up against some of the harshest conditions nature can throw at them.
The aforementioned trio consists of Dan Walker (Kevin Zegers), his girlfriend, Parker O'Neil (Emma Bell) and the totally ironic third wheel, Joe Lynch (Shawn Ashmore, who once played Ice Man in the 'X-Men' films). They head to the hills to do some skiing and snowboarding, but are jerks about the mountain having to close early for the week. They convince the ski lift operator to allow them one last run, but due to some confusion down below, the ski lift stops and the resort closes, leaving all three of them stranded up high in a ski chair. Together, they struggle to survive sitting in one suspended spot knowing that the resort doesn't open back up again for another week.
Speaking for myself, this movie gave me the same kinds of feelings I got with 'The Edge' the first time I saw it. It really portrays nature working against these people, with cold, bitter winds that whip icy snow at their faces and a pack of wolves down below waiting for an easy meal. I won't spoil too much, but things get pretty brutal. I can say with all honesty that if you're someone who can't stand things like broken bones, skin peeling off, or even the picking of small blemishes (in this case, frostbite), you might very well decide to skip this one. I was cringing a LOT during this, but in all the right ways, considering what the film was trying to do.
One thing some people know about me when it comes to movies is that I'm not the biggest fan of the vilification of wolves. Wolves are my favorite animal; so much so that I have one tattooed on my right arm. There are plenty of documentaries out there that show just how interesting they are as a species, and ALL of our favorite dogs have descended from them. Perhaps that's why they are used so often - it's the idea of "man's best friend" turning on you. There was something about this time around though - I found them convincing. They don't just show up to attack, they show up because something happens to lure them in. It is scary stuff, but to me, this felt like a justifiably dark take on wolves. It's almost like the movie scares you into respecting them, and it feels like one of the more realistically dark takes on wolves I've seen.
Putting the wolf pack aside, though, it's also just an interesting take on character development. While suspended up there, they get to talking and bringing up some stuff that really pulls at your heartstrings. Admittedly, sometimes that heartstring pulling is pretty forced, but some of it adds character to some of these... characters. The mood is set immediately when they start talking about the worst way to die, which actually has a pretty funny punchline, but it's definitely some heavy foreshadowing. As soon as the lights shut off on the slope, you get this sense of foreboding, and it doesn't help that they start freaking out a little about it.
I have to admit that this was a movie that was effectively scary to me. Things get very cleithrophobic (the fear of being stuck, often confused with claustrophobia; the fear of being closed in small spaces), and having my personal crippling fear of heights, it just worked. I was at the edge of my seat, cringing, wincing, even routing for them a little bit. It's movies like this that make me glad I never took up skiing or snowboarding, because I would NOT do well on a ski lift on the best of days, let alone getting stuck up there, even for an instant. I think if you don't mind some of the more gruesome stuff, and you're on the lookout for a harrowing suspense thriller, it's definitely worth checking out.
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