Review: Freeze

Written and directed by Charlie Steeds, on a rescue mission to the North Pole to retrieve an old friend and his lost expedition crew, Captain Mortimer gets more than he bargained for when his ship is frozen into the ice sheet and set upon by bloodthirsty fish-creatures. Starring: Johnny Vivash, David Lenik, Ricardo Freitas, Jake Watkins, Rory Wilton, Tim Cartwright, Beatrice Barrilà, Sam Lane, Jay O’Connell and Jaime Seal.

An artic environment is always going to be a great setting for a horror flick because it immediately throws its characters into a harsh and unforgiving world. Unfortunately, it doesn’t feel like Freeze ever makes the most of that. A good portion of the film takes place on the ship and drags its feet in getting to the heart of its story. It also reveals its monsters right at the very beginning so there’s no anticipation or curiosity to help you lean into the story. That’s one of the film’s key issues, it simply doesn’t give you a tangible element to invest in. The characters aren’t well fleshed out and there isn’t one who really takes the lead for you to follow through this adventure. When it does arrive at its revelation of the bigger plot afoot, it’s quite simple and not really enough to balance out that lack of momentum.

Similarly, it never makes enough of the setting visually, choosing that snowy landscape will usually make for some great atmospheric shots but they sadly don’t appear in Freeze. There’s a fairly insincere quality to the tone of the film, partially due to using a historically styled dialogue. It’s a tricky thing to pull off for any film and here it adds a certain distance from the story. The same goes for the characters, they do have different personalities but they’re lacking in a more relatable or sympathetic quality to grasp onto. However, the performances are solid throughout and Ricardo Freitas, Johnny Vivash and Beatrice Barrilà stand out as bringing a bigger level of intensity and emotion. It’s just a shame the story didn’t provide the space to bring a little more individuality or warmth to round out their characters.

Initially, the style of its horror and monsters are reminiscent of Doctor Who, it feels like there’s a touch of sci-fi at work. When it comes to the violence, it works well, it’s not too heavy or too light, the effects are minimal and more convincing. It’s the element working the hardest to provide a bigger sense of fear and dread, it tries to inject the danger of the road they’re headed down. Unfortunately, the other elements of the film aren’t enhancing that, the directorial style feels more akin to a drama. It misses out on an edge to embrace the darkness to the story, it feels fairly stiff and predictable. There’s a lot of chaotic aspects to the progression of the story but without the atmosphere to back them up and a momentum to add some intensity, they fall flat.

Freeze sadly never quite finds its footing, unable to get a grip on all of the advantages that its icy setting offers. The story is thin and misses out on building tension or suspense by giving away too much of itself too quickly. It spends a lot of its time on dialogue which distracts from building a tone of fear and it doesn’t give its viewers a key character or direction to invest in, or something to truly drive the story forward.

Verdict: ✯✯ | 4/10

Available now on DVD & Digital in the UK and US

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