A stalled chairlift, then calamity. No après-ski for these college students.
Is there a fundamental pleasure in watching beautiful but vapid people undergo complete physical destruction? Probably, or horror stories like ski-trip-gone-bad "Frozen" (produced by Peter Block of "Saw" fame) wouldn't exist.
In this case, the characters are shiny clean college kids bundled in the latest styles from North Face and PacSun, antsy from sexual tension and ready to hit the slopes. Dan and Parker (Kevin Zegers of "Transamerica" and Emma Bell of "Dollhouse") are a couple just entering the "calling each other honey" stage, and Joe (Shawn Ashmore of "X-Men") is the pouty third wheel. The three set off on a ski trip that, conveniently for the horror plot, they failed to mention to anyone else.
We appear headed for a regurgitation of "American Pie"-like foibles, complete with a bland frat-house rock score. Incessant chatter makes the cast of this gory thriller sound like nervous kids trying to talk to adults. The excess of conversation never succeeds at humor, but it does make us hate the characters, whose speech seems to have just two modes: bickering and whining.
After a day on the bunny hill, the group persuades the lift operator to let them take one last ride on the big chairlift at dusk, only to be forgotten in the employees' rush to get home. After the fateful lift comes to a halt, the tone of the film changes, signaled when a screeching string section replaces the rock score.
While director Adam Green so far has tortured us with a terrible movie, he now begins the gruesome torture of his own characters. As frostbite hits, Parker's freckled complexion slowly appears dipped in wax and flecked with odd bits of color. Dan suffers not one but two broken legs. The destruction of the college students' blandly perfect exteriors is, at least, somewhat satisfying.
Worse things start to happen: wolves, starvation, excessive skin loss due to contact with frigid metal. Can I open my eyes now? At this point, holes in the plot begin to nag more insistently. Why wouldn't these kids have their cell phones at the ready? Couldn't they just make a rope out of their coats and climb down?
Suspending my disbelief in this case only brings mild nausea, and none of the compensating pleasures of imagined landscapes or special effects. Here's hoping that the producer won't somehow turn "Frozen" into its own six-film franchise, as has happened with "Saw." "Suspended," the tale of three abandoned rock climbers dangling over grizzly bears, does not need to exist.
Rebecca Lang is a University of Minnesota journalism student on assignment for the Star Tribune.