Directed by Reynir Lyngdal
Distributed by Entertainment One
Strange things are afoot amidst the Icelandic glaciers in director Reynir Lyngdal’s (predominantly) found footage horror flick Frost, and while from the outset the equally gorgeous and existentially terrifying icy expanse in which it takes place provides atmosphere immediately guaranteed to deliver chills, Reynir unfortunately seems intent on blowing every opportunity for fear, opting for sheer boredom and frustration instead.
In Frost, documentary filmmaker Gunnar joins his researcher girlfriend Agla and her team at a glacial research station in order to make a film on… something that we’re not entirely sure of (but it’s for the Glacial Research Centre, so that’s fine). Waking up the next morning, the pair discover that the rest of the team seem to have disappeared somewhere in the wastes. As time passes and strange night-time occurrences involving freaky lights and loud noises zipping around the station increase in intensity, Gunnar and Agla set off to the nearby dig in search of Agla’s missing comrades. There, they discover something supposedly ancient and terrifying that has been freed from the depths of the ice. The audience, though, remains none the wiser as to just what the hell has been going on and, more importantly, why they should give a damn.
At a merciful 78 minutes in length, Frost still manages to feel overlong with extended sequences of dialogue made even less interesting than they are on paper by their visual representation in the form of constantly shifting focus and shaky-cam cinematography. Constant shouting in the latter half of the flick quickly becomes grating (though admittedly leads Thors and Guðmundsdóttir are only playing with what they’ve been given, and doing a decent enough job of portraying a believable couple), leaving the only thing that will keep most viewers on board being the search for answers to the actually rather engaging mystery of just what it is causing trouble out there in the snow. Again, however, Lyngdal seems malcontent with the idea of actually giving any revelations as to the nature of his antagonist (antagonists, maybe – who knows?), seeming to come close a number of times to giving us something to hold on to, only to perform a 180 degree turn at the crucial moment.
This becomes increasingly tiresome, especially considering a number of the more tense scenes in the film seem set up to offer us a stinger-like glimpse at something out there, but never do. Fine, if the intention is to build to a larger payoff – but by the time Frost makes a switch from found footage into the standard cinematic format to give us an ending filled with yet more waffle and not so much beating around the bush as doing laps around it, all patience with it will be long lost to the wind. Perhaps most crucially, it simply isn’t scary – the threat so poorly presented that even the finale’s subdued apocalyptic feel sits as little more than an incongruous climax to something the scale of which we simply have no grasp on whatsoever. So we’re left with little more than a bunch of shaking camera nonsense, shouting, and a compelling mystery that blows up in its own face while simultaneously spitting in yours. The few moments of genuine tension and involuntary shiver-inducing environs just can’t in any way raise Frost above utter banality. In keeping with the title, it’s a thoroughly cold experience.
Special features on Entertainment One’s UK DVD release include a brief “Making of” featurette and trailers.
1 out of 5
1 1/2 out of 5