United States. 94 minutes. Directed by Andrew Wyatt, 2012. Starring Brit Morgan, Noah Segan, Seth David Mitchell.
Mike and Emma are on a weekend camping vacation in the mountains. An already tense situation (Emma is pregnant with Mike’s baby, and she doesn’t plan on keeping it) takes a turn for the worse after a harrowing snowmobile accident. Then Mike disappears, leaving Emma to fend for herself. Can Emma make it back to civilization on her own–and who is the mysterious man who’s been stalking her since they made it to camp?
The Frozen telegraphs its lack of promise from its very first scene, which features Brit Morgan (as Emma) staring at a pregnancy test (positive result, natch) with the exact sort of look that actresses use when they need to convey the feeling of “Oh shit, I’m pregnant and I really do not want to have a baby.” It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Emma’s journey is going to involve coming to terms with her situation and deciding she wants that baby after all. It’s so obvious I didn’t even bother to mark it as a spoiler. Despite the former True Blood supporting player spending the entire scene in her undies, that’s not a good start to the proceedings.
The best that can be said about what follows is that at least it’s not all downhill from there: The Frozen maintains a pretty consistent level of mediocrity across its ninety-plus minutes. The film’s biggest problem is its story: for pretty much the entire first hour or so of the film, Andrew Hyatt’s script never manages to feel like it’s actually going anywhere. The plot treads water for far too long, relying too much on the bland and clichéd dynamic between the couple (it turns out Mike was planning on proposing, because that’s the only way you can possibly follow up Emma’s revelation that she’s planning to terminate her pregnancy) and the sort of bickering dialogue that movies like this have been required by federal law to feature since the Blair Witch Act of 1999. Even after Mike disappears, Hyatt (who also directed) seems incapable of communicating the danger that Emma’s in.
Then, after a scene that’s probably meant to be surreal and creepy but is composed in a way that most of the attention is focused on the plunging neckline of Morgan’s gown, the story takes a left turn into bizarre territory. The shift is so jarring and clumsy that I have a hard time believing that Hyatt had it in mind when he started working on the script; it seems more likely that he had this brilliant idea that he wanted to go with instead, and never reworked the previous material to fit the new third act. The whole thing culminates in an OMG shock twist!!! that would have pissed me off if I’d been more invested in what was going on, featuring one whopper of a logical inconsistency (why doesn’t the Hunter just approach Emma near the campsite and explain his motivation to her, like he claims he did with Mike, instead of standing silently in the distance, walking away, and waiting until the final scene to spill the beans? Because if he didn’t, there wouldn’t be a movie).
If there’s a saving grace to all this, it’s the main cast. Morgan and Seth David Mitchell invest Emma and Mike with the personality that Hyatt doesn’t bother to give them, and they have great chemistry with each other. Morgan isn’t quite compelling enough to pull off the Plucky Heroine that the film requires, but she does at least give it her all, and she’s cute enough to focus on even when Hyatt’s direction reduces the breathtaking beauty of the locations to a banal picture postcard. Sadly, Noah Segan (Deadgirl, Someone’s Knocking at the Door) doesn’t do quite as well as the Hunter: he never seems ominous, or threatening…or much of anything else, really. He’s just there. It could be argued that there’s not much you can do with a character who just stands off in the distance and never says anything, and my response to that is: watch The Strangers and then try to make that argument again.
Still, we must try to remain positive, so I’ll close with this: since you’re not likely to expect much from The Frozen in the first place (unless you expected more from Morgan’s turn in the role of Anne of Cleavage), you won’t walk away disappointed. Which doesn’t actually make it a good movie, of course, but sometimes there’s something to be said for not being a complete waste of time.