Frost DVD Review
Directed by Reynir Lyngdal
Written by Jón Atli Jónasson
2012, Region 2 (PAL), 79 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD released on 10 February 2013
Helgi Björnsson as Yfirmaður Björgunarm
Einar Dagbjartsson as Flugmaður
Valur Freyr Einarsson as Arnar
Elma Lísa Gunnarsdóttir as Bráðavaktalæknir
Anna Gunndís Guðmundsdóttir as Agla
Bjartur Guðmundsson as Lögreglumaður
Not the cuddly Disney cartoon currently doing the rounds – Frost is an Icelandic found footage film, heavy on scares and low on anthropomorphised comedy snow. Camping at an Icelandic glacier with a team of scientists, physiologist Agla and filmmaker Gunnar wake up to discover their camp deserted and their colleagues disappeared. Now that's what you call being left out in the cold. As they set about searching for their missing co-workers, the couple begin to realise that they may not be quite as alone as the empty snowy vistas might suggest...
Yes, it's yet another found footage horror film. While foreign films of the subgenre do tend to be more bearable than most, Frost lacks the imagination of Troll Hunter or the visceral thrills of [REC], fading into the chaff of all the other American and European found footages out there. It doesn't help that The Dylatov Pass Incident is so fresh in the mind, a film with a very similar premise and setting. Worse, there seems to be some unwritten rule in all found footage horror films that there must always be a scene in which the protagonist descends into either a disused bunker or really dark cave for what passes as the final confrontation with the antagonising forces. As ever, this results in pitch black darkness, bad camerawork (unacceptable when you stop to consider that the protagonist in question is a professional cameraman) and lots of frenzied screaming at a horror you'll never get to see.
There could have been a fine H.P. Lovecraft-esque confrontation there, between mankind and the unknowable forces of darkness, but Frost once again pisses those opportunities up the wall. It's technically fine (aside from the intentional bad camerawork and scrabbling about in the darkness) with an intriguing story, strong performances and some good ideas at play, which makes the lack of originality and ambition feel even more galling.
The best scene comes right at the start, as a helicopter carries our hero through the snowy mountains towards his destination. I can get a dark, damp cave every time the lightbulb blows in the bathroom – there's no escapism in that. It's as though the limits of the medium provide filmmakers with an excuse to be lazy and mundane. As I say, I can get enough of that in everyday life – give me The Mountains of Madness. Even the Dyatlov Pass will do, delivering some decent shocks and an interesting twist in spite of its cast of Hollyoaks alumni and British nobodies.
For its flaws, Frost isn't even a bad film. Indeed, it'll do just fine should you not mind a little cliché and lack of ambition. Those with a found footage prejudice, however, will be less than impressed. Every so often, a film will come along which blows the rest of its subgenre out of the water. Frost is not that film.
While there is nothing wrong with Frost on a technical level, something about it just left me feeling cold.
Video and Audio:
It looks fine, apart from where the story (and budget) dictates that it doesn't. There's music where there shouldn't be. That lovely song playing over the end credits, while even more out of place, is the best thing in the entire film.
A solitary making-of featurette is the only special feature. Depicting the technicalities of making a movie in the deep snow and freezing cold, you have to admire the cast and crew's tenacity, even if it doesn't always pay off during the film itself. The highlight is watching a man try to open a cupboard door that has been frozen shut. That's more interesting than it sounds, honest.