Frost Image


By Rob Rector | October 12, 2022

I’m a sucker for survivalist stories. Watching humans humbled by nature and forced to their most feral states is grist for my movie-going mill. With that in mind, the premise of director Brandon Slagle’s Frost seems like cinematic catnip for me: a pregnant young woman, Abby (Devanny Pinn), is visiting her estranged father, Grant (veteran actor Vernon Wells), in his remote mountain hideaway. But, when their car veers off the road, they are forced to resort to their primal instincts to survive.

Similar to the single-location premise of Adam Green’s Frozen (which finds a trio trapped on a ski lift overnight), Frost demonstrates the sliding scale of desperation when confronted with creeping mortality. But the former used its economy to escalate the mounting tension. In contrast, screenwriter Robert Thompson (from a story by James Cullen Bressack) would rather dive into gory extremes that never feel fully earned given the setup. Take, for example, Abby’s pregnancy. The film’s opening scenes provide us with a conversation she has with her girlfriend that suggests it will be a source of dramatic tension between the two. But aside from a few awkward exchanges, the subject is never again addressed.

“…their car veers off the road, they are forced to resort to their primal instincts to survive.”

There’s also the suggestion of additional strain from the passing of Abby’s mother, her father’s drinking, and the fact that she and Grant have not spoken in five years. After the crash, he sets out to find help, and aside from a few brief walkie-talkie exchanges, the two never share any other dialogue with one another. Had the familial dysfunction played out further, it would be easier to overlook the obvious budgetary limitations apparent in the movie. While there are some solid makeup effects, this lack of dramatic pressure forces our attention to drift to the more-manufactured elements of the lead’s snowy prison.

Both Pinn and Wells are solid. But one wishes the screenplay was more focused on their dynamics rather than veering into the shock-and-gore of the final act. Again, the bond between daughter and father is never authenticated, never building the necessary emotional scaffolding needed necessary to earn the story’s more shocking turns.

I am certainly not against these more morbid twists near the conclusion, but Frost fails to build the stakes to which these acts of desperation seem logical. And while director Slagle, for the most part, keeps things tight within the confines of the car, too often, scenes are sliced to pieces that undermine the spatial relationship so necessary for claustrophobic thrillers. Clocking in at a mere 80 minutes, there was certainly room in which to build this. But just like the crash near the beginning, the film seems sudden and jarring and does nothing to support its late swerve into gore and gristle.

Frost (2022)

Directed: Brandon Slagle

Written: James Cullen Bressack, Robert Thompson

Starring: Devanny Pinn, Vernon Wells, Venus DeMilo Thomas, etc.

Movie score: 4/10

Frost Image

"…Pinn and Wells are solid..."

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