Compared by many to, the admittedly similar, Open Water I will just start this review by clearing something up right now. This movie is much better. Unlike that DV-shark flick this film has characters you care about, genuine sustained tension and even some moments to make you wince.
Three skiers get stuck on a chairlift. Sorry, were you waiting for more plot description? That’s it. Simple. Two guys and a girl beg a staff member to let them use the chairlift to get up for one last run down and, through a series of small, unfortunate coincidences, end up abandoned up in the chilly air with nobody aware of them being up there.
Written and directed by Adam Green, this film will certainly surprise those who thought the man was only out to provide the kind of genre fun that Hatchet gave us (and, hey, that movie WAS a lot of fun). There are some little references and gags in there for people in the know, one being a cameo from Kane Hodder, but this is all about the situation developing and the people involved.
The acting from all three leads is believable, you buy into the whole premise and you care about how this trio will get out of their predicament. Emma Bell is probably the least well-known of the three and does very well while Shawn Ashmore is familiar to X-Men fans already and Kevin Zegers has appeared in numerous movies as diverse as the Dawn Of The Dead remake and It’s A Boy Girl Thing. Yes, some may seem to get off lighter than others and there are also certainly scenes featuring some pointless bickering but the movie is never more than a few minutes away from something fun or something terrifying. I think it’s safe to use some hyperbole and say that this movie could well do for chairlifts what Jaws did for seashore paddling.
On paper I can well imagine how the dangers of this movie sound: the harsh cold, the height, the wolves who may be out for blood. All you need is for part of the seat to spontaneously combust and you have a micro-budgeted disaster movie but nothing pops out as being ridiculous or over the top. The position of the chairlift puts cold and height at the very top of the list of factors putting our protagonists in peril while the appearance of animals and any other dangers that occur do so in a very natural development, making it easier to go along with everything up until the last 10-15 minutes when one contrivance too many puts in an appearance to help move the film towards it’s conclusion.
Overall, with all of the publicity that Hatchet II has been receiving this year I’d have to say that, while I’m looking forward to that film when I eventually get to see it, this movie is deserving of just as much notice and praise from horror fans.
DIRECTOR: ADAM GREEN
CAST: EMMA BELL, SHAWN ASHMORE, KEVIN ZEGERS
DURATION: 93 MINUTES APPROX