On Friday nights, IndieWire After Dark takes a feature-length beat to honor fringe cinema in the streaming age. 

First, the spoiler-free pitch for one editor’s midnight movie pick — something weird and wonderful from any age of film that deserves our memorializing. 

Then, the spoiler-filled aftermath as experienced by the unwitting editor attacked by this week’s recommendation.

The Pitch: Blonde Chick Underestimates Her Powers in Icy Tribute to Being Single

Cinematic homonyms are something of a small passion for me.

Whether it’s British spies vs. American superheroes in “The Avengers,” or Noah Baumbach’s “Kicking and Screaming” not starring Will Ferrell, movies that share the same title are fun oddities that recall anecdotes of auditoriums mistakenly shown the wrong films. (Shout out to the “Peter Rabbit” patrons who bore witness to a trailer for “Hereditary” in 2018; still beats me how that one happened.)

To my knowledge, there isn’t a better case of films with the same title as the two “Frozen” movies: that’s writer/director Adam Green’s “Frozen” (2010) and Disney’s “Frozen” (2013). Both tell stories of blonde women suddenly cast into the icy tundra, forced to navigate their mortal fears, and coincidentally run from wolves, alongside their spectacularly inept love interests.

Without a princess in Green’s decidedly unromantic thriller, that’s about where the similarities stop. But there’s still a gleeful irony in pairing the permanently entangled but diametrically opposed “Frozen” films, released just three years apart and constantly at war for space in my mind, which is equally appreciative of animation and winter sports-related catastrophes.

Emma Bell stars in the original “Frozen” as Parker: a pretty skier who flirts her way into free slope admission for her and her friends, Dan (Kevin Zegers) and Joe (Shawn Ashmore), at a resort. All’s well and good until a mix-up with a lift operator leaves the three trapped high above the ground during a snowstorm, with no hope of being rescued until the following week. Faced with the possibility of freezing to death — or worse — Parker, Dan, and Joe puzzle their way through a classic single-location, escape room horror with mixed success for the disappointingly dense characters.

FROZEN, Emma Bell, 2010, © Anchor Bay Films/courtesy Everett Collection

The low-budget Sundance debut’s pacing leaves something to be desired (it somehow drags at just 93 minutes?), and its situation-based scares are nothing if not uneven. Still, one particularly hard to watch gross-out gag delivers a surprising amount of the film’s horror heft, and the small cast makes for a memorably awful trio to think of the next time you’re hitting the slopes.

“Frozen” fits the midnight movie classification if only because it’s a fringe fright fest that’s been hugely displaced by the House of Mouse. Plus, it takes big swings — riding its rickety premise to the end of its creative team’s abilities for an experience that’s memorable… if not one of a kind. —AF

The Aftermath: You’re Telling Me They Froze?! In ‘Frozen’?!

As any ski lift operator who has ever been graced with a $100 bribe from a young woman who was peer-pressured into conning him can attest, sometimes life just hands you an unexpected present. Such was the case when I watched “Frozen,” a movie that I enjoyed far more than I expected to.

Adam Green’s icy thriller had existed on my periphery for years, but my knowledge of it was pretty much limited to the fact that there was a horror movie called “Frozen.” (Hooray for homonyms indeed!) Just from occasionally glancing at the poster and DVD cover over the years, it seemed like the kind of direct-to-VOD crap that I spent far too much time watching in college and now try to avoid. But in true IndieWire After Dark fashion, I found that my begrudging willingness to go in with an open mind was rewarded by one of the most fun 93-minute horror experiences I’ve had in a while.

I won’t vouch for every single aspect of “Frozen,” but I knew it was a midnight movie worthy of discussion from the moment a character said that there aren’t wolf attacks in New England because the region’s wolves are “pussies.” I figured it was some kind of unsubtle Chekov’s Gun for a movie that could only end in a handful of ways, but the blatant stupidity of the dialogue was so amusing that I decided I would gladly roll in whatever direction the film wanted to take me.

As it turns out, the only direction it wanted to take me in was “straight the fuck ahead,” because the scary movie about people trapped in a ski lift is pretty much nothing but a feature-length reminder that being trapped in a ski lift is scary. And you know what? That’s perfectly fine, because it is scary! I believe that a lot of movies with promising set-ups end up underperforming because they’re afraid to simply ride their premise to its logical conclusion. I can’t tell you how many genre films have lost my attention in the third act because they raised the stakes for no reason and turned a simple adventure into a gigantic battle between good and evil. If I’m buying a ticket to see something called “Frozen,” all I ask is that a few people freeze to death! You can imagine how disappointed I was with the Disney animated musical, but this went a long way towards healing those wounds.

I was also predisposed to like this movie, because being trapped in a ski lift is an utterly terrifying scenario for me. I don’t like traveling in any kind of vehicle where I don’t personally know the person operating it, so roller coasters and airplanes are very much not my thing. My lack of skiing experience had prevented me from ever worrying about this specific scenario, but now I’ll have a new nightmare in the event that I ever give it a try. One thing is for certain though: I’m never planning a ski trip without first doing some research on the masculinity and assertiveness of the local wolf population. —CZ

Those brave enough to join in on the fun can stream “Frozen” (2010) on Tubi. IndieWire After Dark publishes midnight movie recommendations at 11:59 p.m. ET every Friday. Read more of our deranged suggestions…

  • ‘Christmas Comes to Pac-Land’ Is the Chomp-Filled ’80s Christmas Relic You Never Knew You Needed
  • The Late Julian Sands Blows the Lid Off Hulu’s Holiday Horror Comedy ‘A Nasty Piece of Work’
  • ‘The Yattering and Jack’ Warns Against Satanic Turkey Preparation This Thanksgiving Eve

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