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If you ever felt comfortable going skinny-dipping, it was likely before you saw Stephen Spielberg’s 1975 thriller “Jaws.” Similarly, if you plan on seeing director Adam Green’s newest horror film “Frozen,” you may think twice about hitting the slopes. As Green says, if you are going to see “Frozen,” be ready for a “psychological mind-fuck of a movie.” But as Green explains, he also hopes to jump-start a revitalization of the independent horror film, a genre he claims has faded in the last decade.
“Frozen” is set in a small ski resort in the Northeast where a trio of friends set-off for a fun weekend during the heart of winter. All is well until they become stuck on a chair lift, 50 feet in the air, with no one expected to return to the mountain for days.
“I grew up skiing in the New England area and not being able to afford to go to the real mountains up North,” says Green. “Not exactly real mountain skiing. And in the time periods when they were only open Friday to Sunday, and you were on that last run, and you hear the lift stop, you always had that scary thought that you were stuck.”
This is the fourth feature film directed by Adam Green. His past works include the cult-hit slasher “Hatchet” and the more upbeat comedy “Coffee & Donuts.” “Frozen,” also written by Green, represents a turn toward a more serious brand of horror and aims to set a more grim and realistic tone.
“It’s all shot practically,” explains Green. “There is no sound stage, no green screen, no CGI. The actors are all actually in the air. The weather is real. All the things that threaten them are real.”
The film was shot in the town of Snow Basin, Utah, located 10,000 feet above sea level, during the middle of the coldest time of year.
“The coldest I remember Utah was when we’d have to ride the lift all the way up after filming,” says Green. “[In] minus 30 degree wind chill. Absolute agony for the whole 45 minute ride.”
The elevated setting presented other filming challenges. “We used a 50 foot techno crane with a ten foot platform,” says Green. “When the chair was moving, and the actors were speaking, that was hard. The ski mountain wouldn’t allow us to hang a camera on the chair, so we built this cherry picker bucket that we hung right in front of their chair. We couldn’t find anyone to get up in the bucket to shoot, so we shot it ourselves. That was one of the hardest parts. I’m afraid of heights.”
The heights and the weather were not the only agonizing parts of production. “All the wolves are real,” says Green. “Critics assume that they must be CGI. We had 6 weeks of training with a pack of wolves with the wolf man. This was the same wolf man who trained the wolves in ‘Dances with Wolves’ and ‘The Chronicles of Narnia.’ They are wild animals. They are unpredictable. At any moment, they could snap.”
“Frozen” made its premiere at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival in late January, garnering significant attention. “We had the best experience anyone could hope for at Sundance,” says Green. “All five shows were sold out within 48 hours of going on sale. We had a waitlist line.
Someone fainted in the lobby during the first show, two people threw up in the second, and we had people running out during the other three. They were innocent bystanders. When it hits them, they just can’t take it. Every time we lost someone, I would kind of cheer inside.”
Now, upon wider release, “Frozen” has received some polarizing critical comments from the Hollywood press. “When people see the trailer,” Green explains, “they automatically become Spiderman, stating all the ways they could escape. Critics make their decisions long before they see the movie. And when they see it and see the fact that all their ideas don’t work, then they get defensive.”
When asked about his expectations for the film’s release, Green turned to address his expectations for the industry as a whole.
“We’re definitely realistic,” says Green. “It’s a tough time to be making movies. Now, you only get 72 hours instead of a six week release. It’s sad and it’s tough. And it’s just going to get worse.”
“Fans won’t pay to see new ideas,” Green continues. “They go to see the remakes of whatever the fuck and bitch about it not being as good while not going to see the original movies.”
This, Green goes on to say, is a barrier that the industry must break through. “Most films like ours go straight to DVD,” says Green.
“It’s sad that this is the state that horror is in. When it’s not a remake, you’re counted out. I hope we can change that. And as we move forward, maybe we can change it.”
—Staff writer Alex C. Nunnelly can be reached at email@example.com.
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