Frost (2012) review

Frost posterDirector: Reynir Lyngdal

Starring: Anna Gunndís Guðmundsdóttir, Björn Thors

“If anyone can hear me, my name is Agla Helgadottir and I am calling from the base camp of the glacial research expedition. There are two of us here. One man is dead and five others are missing. Please send help, I don’t know what is going on here.” (Agla, Frost)

Unlike many horror film fans, I’m not yet sick of the ‘found footage’ genre. First made popular with The Blair Witch Project (although Cannibal Holocaust preceded it by decades), when a film uses it properly it can be bloody effective.

Unfortunately, most films don’t. For the most part, ‘found footage’ is a solution to a problem – usually a funding one – rather than a deliberate artistic style. Why bother with lighting, shot composition and the like when you can just go down the shakycam route and slash the budget drastically?

Frost is, unfortunately, one of the worst examples of this I’ve seen in a long time.  Despite having a potentially interesting setting for a film of this genre and a trailer that genuinely excited me, the actual result falls short in so many ways it might as well have been directed by a midget to complete the full set.

Frost pic 1
Agla couldn’t believe the use of the word “midget” in the paragraph above her

Agla (the admittedly charming Anna Gunndís Guðmundsdóttir) is part of a research team working on the outskirts of the Arctic Circle. She’s there to study glaciers, which is about as exciting as it sounds.

Soon her lover Gunnar (Björn Thors) turns up to surprise her. Gunnar is a documentary filmmaker and he wants to make a documentary about glacier research. Um, I think I’ll wait for it to end up on Netflix, mate.

Naturally, this means Gunnar films absolutely everything, from banal conversations to him and his missus shagging, because everyone knows a filmmaker has an infinite supply of tape, especially when shooting in extreme conditions.

"Oooh, what's that out the window?" "Dunno, but let's definitely not more the camera over and actually film it"
“Oooh, what’s that out the window?” “Dunno, but let’s definitely not move the camera over and actually film it instead of pointing it at us”

The next morning, Agla realises the other five researchers who were working at the camp have completely disappeared, leaving her and Gunnar all alone. What could have happened to them? Well, don’t get too interested because you barely find out.

The first 50 minutes of Frost are intolerably slow, something even less appealing when you consider the entire film only clocks in at 79 minutes (including five minutes of credits, natch).

If you’re a fan of endless shots of people walking across snow and ice, getting a bit lost, then walking across more snow and ice, then this is your Citizen Kane. Otherwise… well, it isn’t.

Occasionally the pair encounters something odd – be it the lights going out in their cabin, or one of their colleagues with a messed up face. But if you were to watch these scenes with a heart monitor attached, you’d need to keep checking to make sure it was actually switched on.

Well, they were certainly right - Gillette's new razor really did provide the closest shave yet
Well, they were certainly right – Gillette’s new razor really did provide the closest shave yet

The apparently tense moments are just handled awfully, with a particularly infuriating effect overused every time the slightest hint of threat approaches.

Any time things look like they might be getting dodgy, the footage from their camera goes corrupt, freezing and showing scattered pixels as if the footage had been ruined. Every single time.

I get why they’re doing it, of course – it’s a cheap way to avoid having to actually choreograph any action or show anything dodgy – but if you’re going to do that, then you better have a plan to actually deliver at the end.

That’s what made Jaws and Alien so successful – you never really saw what the monster looked like until the end of the film. But at least you did end up seeing the bloody thing. Blair Witch also worked to a lesser degree because, while you never saw the witch, its ambiguous ending was still pretty iconic.

To be fair, sometimes they stand in front of a red light. That's about as exciting as it gets, really
To be fair, sometimes they stand in front of a red light. That’s about as exciting as it gets, really

Frost doesn’t do this. In fact, the very second it looks like it might be about to get interesting, it’s pulled from under us with a horrible cop-out ending that answers no questions and asks a bunch of new ones.

Found footage films can still be effective – as my recent review of Banshee Chapter shows – but most of them these days are half-arsed efforts whose shaky footage may partly disguise what’s going on, but doesn’t quite disguise the lack of effort and ambition on the part of the filmmakers.

Frost had the potential to be chilling, but instead it left me feeling cold. And if a film has the power to drive me to such bad puns, then you know it has to be shit. Actually, here’s one more – it’s not so much Frost as it is Nixon. Ahahahaha. Look, just go away.

trev_new

HOW CAN I SEE IT?
I understand, I’ve sold you on it. Frost is released tomorrow on DVD in the UK. It’s got a single ‘making of’ feature, which in reality is just ten minutes of pricks standing in the snow. If you’re an exceptionally cruel person and are trying to think of an inventive way to finish with your partner for Valentine’s Day, then you can buy it here. America, you can’t get it yet, so you’ll have to ‘miss out’.

SHOW ME THE TRAILER:

Frost‘s low score makes it the most recent inductee in the That Was A Bit Mental Hall Of Shame. Check out the rest of the entries here!

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