Judge Jim Thomas wants to rescore this movie using Frank Zappa's "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow." It could only help.
Terror is as cold as ice.
First of all, let the record show that I will be revealing the plot (such as it is) for Frozen Kiss right from the start. Only by knowing what's really happening can you understand some key mistakes made by the filmmakers. Besides, you really don't want to watch this. Trust me.
On January 4, 2005, a couple on their way home to their apartment in Omaha, Nebraska lost control of their vehicle in a snowstorm and went off the road. During the evening, they made a series of calls to 911 asking for assistance; each successive call was more frantic, and more puzzling. At one point they claimed to be surrounded by hundreds of people who didn't speak English.
They both left their vehicle—with heat and a half tank of gas—whereupon they froze to death.
It wasn't until after the police investigated that they discovered that the couple had been high on crystal meth; meth-fueled delusions had driven them from the safety of their heated vehicle; it was speculated that the "hundreds of people" was, in fact, a herd of cattle.
That's what happened (a link to a news article is included below). There's certainly some cinematic potential here, sort of like Open Water on ice. The filmmakers assembled a pretty good cast; sadly, that was the only good decision they made.
Facts of the Case
Five weeks ago, Shelley (Cameron Goodman, Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure) was leaving her lover Ryan's house when she was accosted by her husband; she watched helplessly as he calmly produced a nine millimeter and killed himself. Now she's trying to pick up the pieces with Ryan (Jaime Martz, Cloverfield). Complicating matters is Shelley's contentious relationship with her crippled mother Gayle (Mimi Rogers, Ginger Snaps); Ryan isn't in much better shape with the tensions between him and his estranged wife, focused mainly on their infant son. As if that weren't enough, yet another one of Shelley's ex-boyfriends has recently returned to town; newly invested as a local deputy, he wants to win Shelley back.
Things go south when the couple leave a party and head for home. After being accosted by a mysterious man who calls her a whore, Shelley notices that a car has been following them, but their attempts to elude the car land them in a snowbank. They call 911 for help, and thus begins the race: The deputy searches for the couple, as do Gayle and one of her ex-boyfriends. And every time Ryan and Shelley turn around, they see someone following them; Shelley is convinced it is her dead husband Keith…
Most of the film's problems can be laid at the feet of screenwriter Jennifer Calendar. The basic story has a lot of potential, particularly if the facts of the drug use are kept hidden until late in the proceedings and the weirdness is slowly ratcheded up. Instead, the writer dumps a metric shit ton of red herrings on the table in the opening ten minutes (Dead ex! Jealous ex! Bitter and crippled mom! Noble lawman who just wants his bestest girl back!), only to sweep them all away almost immediately. It's hard to look at the opening and not expect some kind of slasher movie, frankly; with that much free-floating rage, a killing spree seems pretty much inevitable (though I might just be projecting my feelings towards Washington onto the situation). I even considered the possibility that someone was gaslighting Shelley, until I realized that it takes intelligence to do that—promptly disqualifying everyone, with the possible exception of the police dispatcher. However, it quickly becomes obvious that Shelley is hallucinating; mysterious strangers who appear out of nowhere could have all manner of nefarious explanations, but when street names change right in front of you—that's on you (No human would change street names like that. See? It just doesn't work). Twenty-five minutes in, the cat's out of the bag with a ridiculously extended sequence of drug use; at that point, any real tension in the movie is gone. Hmmm, meth heads wandering about in subzero weather? Oh, yeah, this'll end well.
About the same time, you realize that the world just might be better served if everybody were to die, as though giving the cinematic gene pool a nice dose of chlorine. Clearly we're supposed to feel sympathy for Ryan and Shelley's plight, but they just aren't particularly likable; in fact, it's hard to give a shit about anyone here. Ryan is a deadbeat jerk, his estranged wife is no better than he, Gayle is bitter and twisted, and even the deputy is a self-righteous tool who makes one of the more egregious blunders in the film when he has Shelley on the phone close to the end of the movie: Instead of reassuring her, saying whatever is necessary to keep her on the damn phone, he tells her how she really screwed up by dumping him, so naturally she hangs up on his sanctimonious ass.
Making matters worse, instead of focusing on developing the considerable potential of the basic "lost in a freaking snowstorm" concept, the film instead relies on relationship angst used to pad much of the proceedings; these efforts to pad out the story result in the sort of tedious mawkishness generally reserved for Lifetime movies.
There's no point in ragging on the actors. They gamely soldier on; the two leads and Mimi Rogers bring a certain sense of reality to their characters, but the script just leaves them twisting in the wind, as it were. Technically, the disc is OK. The video is a bit soft, but clear enough to reveal that the bulk of the snow is CGI, and that the cinematography is haphazard, with bad framing, camera wobbles, and focus issues. The stereo 2.0 audio track is good, but several characters have a tendency to mumble, so that dialogue isn't always clear.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Mark Hart's score, at least the parts in which he's not trying to artificially generate tension, is quite nice, particularly the cues that play over the opening and closing credits.
I would also like to thank the filmmakers for not including a commentary track, as that would have required me to watch the film for a third time.
Any questions? Didn't think so.
The Gulag Rura Pente seems right for this frozen abomination. Jesus.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: E1 Entertainment
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