Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Like a romance novel with a twist

Frozen in Fear (2000)
Starring: Catherine Oxenberg, Eric Roberts, Rod Steiger, Joan Benedict, Scott Plank, and Ellina McCormick
Director: Robin P. Murray
Rating: Four of Ten Stars

A Seattle art dealer (Oxenberg) travels to a remote mountain town to convince a talented but reclusive painter (Roberts) to sell his work through her gallery. She soon falls in love with the emotionally damaged man, but even as romance blooms, someone is creeping through the night and murdering women passing through the area. Is the killer the quirky sheriff (Plank), the much-feared town patriarch (Steiger), or the sensitive artist? And will our heroine become one of his victims?

"Frozen in Fear" is a made-for-TV movie that is as much a romantic chick-flick as it is a horror movie, complete with the fantasy of a woman healing a man's soul through the power of love. The cast of characters are basically off-the-shelf figures from gothic romances--and you'll quickly recognize each and every one of them as soon as they are introduced. And you'll eventually realize that none of these thinly written characters, whose actions are driven entirely by plot concerns whether there is any logic to them or not, will never rise above the status of stereotypical figures. The only thing that saves this film from being a total snooze fest is the horror aspect.

But even the presence of a mad killer can't save this film, because, even though there is a mildly clever twist surrounding his identity--at least if one views "Frozen in Fear" as a romance tale first and horror story second--he emerges as such a ludicrous figure that the horror is undermined almost from the outset. And as if the writers wanted to make sure the film remained on the level of trash they throw am ill-conceived "surprise twist ending" that tries to elevate our high mountain stalker to the level of a Jason Vorhees or Michael Myers. The lame ending alone drags this film down a Three Rating when it might otherwise could have been a Four or maybe even a low Five.

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