Released in 2010 – thereby predating that *other* Frozen movie – Frozen proved that Adam Green (Hatchet) can do horror as well as he can do horror-comedy. A confined film set in one location, it centers on three friends who get stuck up on a ski lift over a long weekend. With little protection from the elements, they’re forced to fight for survival – and it’s no help that hungry wolves are waiting down below.
Understanding that the horror of the situation means nothing if we don’t care about those three characters, Green’s script fleshes them out in such a way that we genuinely do. Joe, Dan and Parker feel less like horror movie victims and more like real human beings, which makes their fight – against both the elements and the wolves – one that is equal parts intense, horrifying and heartbreaking.
If there’s any main character in the film it’s Parker, the sole female of the group, who is played by Emma Bell (The Walking Dead). And it’s a brilliantly-scripted and incredibly well-acted monologue from Bell’s character, during the height of the film’s intensity, that seals the deal on Frozen being one of the most emotionally devastating horror films in recent years.
Those who’ve seen the film surely need no reminder of what scene I’m referring to, but for anyone who hasn’t, there’s a moment about an hour into it where Parker realizes she probably isn’t going to survive much longer. In that moment, all she can think about is her puppy, and she opens up to Joe about the absolutely heartbreaking thoughts that are racing through her mind.
Tears running down her face, Parker expresses her sadness not about her own death but about the impact it will have on her dog, who is sure to be waiting by the door for her to come home. The dog won’t understand that Parker has died and will think she simply abandoned her, she says, and is likely to eventually die of starvation. It’s something all pet-owners would think about in that situation, making it one of the most genuine moments in horror history.
“I just want to see my mom and my dad,” she ends the monologue, as the camera pans away from the characters and reminds us that they’re hanging in the midst of an utterly hopeless ordeal.
The monologue establishes something about the character that few horror movies have been capable of accomplishing: it establishes that this character exists outside of the situation being depicted in the film. Of course, as a fictional character, she doesn’t really, but in terms of making you feel like a main character is a real person, the dog monologue accomplishes that goal in an unmatched and totally powerful way.
Most horror movies, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, suffer from having one-dimensional characters that you can’t imagine existing prior to or after the events depicted in them, but Parker is a totally different story. I can’t think of any other horror movies that make us think about the impact a character’s death will have on characters that we never even actually meet, and Parker’s monologue allows us to relate to her on a whole nother level.
The true brilliance of the monologue, however, is that it doesn’t just make Frozen a better movie, but it somehow manages to accomplish the seemingly impossible task of adding another layer to ALL horror movies. I haven’t watched a horror movie since seeing Frozen where I didn’t think about that monologue, which has helped me to view characters as human beings who will be missed when they’re slaughtered – rather than people who were simply birthed as adults, for the sole purpose of dying horrible deaths.
Of course, most horror movies don’t actually earn this level of depth, but that simple monologue has nevertheless changed the way I watch them. Earned or not, I now try to put myself in each character’s shoes and think about the home life they’re about to unwillingly leave behind, and though sometimes it’s simply impossible due to awful scripts, the fact remains that Frozen made me think about something that never even crossed my mind, prior to that trip to my local theater in 2010.
In Frozen, Parker eventually ends up being the sole survivor of the ordeal, jumping to safety and evading the wolves. We need not see the inevitable reunion with her dog, or her parents, to understand how happy she must’ve been to return to normalcy, as that brief monologue resonates long after the end credits have rolled across the screen. An effective addition to the film, to say the very least.
The only thing that will truly matter, when the end is near, are the things we love most, be they our parents, our friends, our spouses or our pets. By addressing this simple fact in Parker’s monologue, Adam Green added an additional layer of emotional depth to both his masterpiece and, for those who were deeply impacted by it, the genre as a whole. If that’s not a powerful horror film, I simply don’t know what is.
By the way: happy fifth anniversary, Frozen!
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