Seeking to reconnect with her estranged father, Grant, after five years, pregnant Abby drives up the mountainous rural cabin. Though not the warmest welcome she was expecting with the sudden pregnancy announcement dropped into her father’s lap, the two manage to find common ground and connect again while reliving memories of Abby’s mother. Their threadbare bond sparks an impromptu finishing trip to the local creek and as the begin to open up a little more with each other, their car accidently runs off the road and declines down a gradual mountain decline before becoming wedged in a thicket of tree branches. Abby, stuck in the passenger seat facing a steep cliffside dropoff, is trapped and injured. As Grant goes for help up the mountain, a severe storm rolls in bringing harsh weather and freezing temperatures down upon Abby who desperately tries to keep warm and prays to not go into early labor before emergency rescue can come to her aid.
Snowy winter thrillers can be harrowingly exciting as much of the plot is fused with the icy and treacherous environment that make lives at stake higher. The snow and the ice become threatening characters and when combined with, at times, a more conventional and concentrated story antagonists, foreseeing path for survival can often feel frigidly impossible. There’s little room for error, there’s little room for warmth, but there’s always an unpredictable heap of bone-chilling snow as far as the eye can see and the elements are only but nature’s natural attributes man has yet to confidently conquer. “Frost” plays into mother nature’s strength when squalling down below freezing wind and snow upon a woman trapped in her own car. The 2022 released, Brandon Slagle (“Attack of the Unknown”) directed “Frost” goes for the jugular in a woman versus nature survival suspenser penned by frequent Slagle aide-de-camp Robert Thompson. The “Aftermath” and “Crossbreed” screenwriter adapts “Frost” from a story by “From Jennifer” writer-director James Cullen Bressack. Shot during the winter in the San Bernardino mountains, “Frost” is produced by the film’s star Devanny Pinn and Cleopatra Music’s Vice President Tim Tasui under the bankroll and production support of Bressack’s JCB Pictures, Inc., Snow Leopard Entertainment, Sandaled Kid Productions, Multiverse Cinema, and Cleopatra Entertainment founders Brian and Yvonne Perera along with Pinn’s co-star Vernon Wells and The Asylum’s Jarrett Furst serving as associate producers.
“Frost” fits into the solo survivalist subgenre category and only characterizes with three actors and a trained wolf. At the tip of the cast spear is independent film producer and broad-brush horror actress and filmmaker Devanny Pinn (“Nude Nuns with Big Guns,” “The Dawn”) in the principal role of Abby, a woman seeking to rekindle her relationship with her reclusive father living in the mountains because of her pregnancy. Genre legend actor Vernon Wells (“Innerspace, “Commando”) opposites Pinn as Abby’s estranged father who’s happy to see his daughter but feels initially threatened by the pregnancy announcement. Understanding the dynamic between Abby and her father was easy as we’ve seen this type of teetering relationship before from a slightly rebellious, new age child returning home to find familiarity with a widowed and waning parent. Pinn and Wells pull off the several stages of reconnecting from the heated exchanges to the sappy moments of loss to the unexpected joy the two characters can bring out of each other, but what’s more difficult to comprehend is the source material. What causes the father and daughter to divide in the first place and how does that division’s role play out in the perilous predicament of an isolating car crash during a severe winter storm? For the sake of critique, one could say that their dissolving disputable divisiveness ends in irony as if the cosmos ultimately pulls them a part in a fitful storm of rage. Wells does what he can to make the initial crash scene comforting while exuding a positive outcome, but the veteran actor appears blank to severity, especially as a woodsman father soon to be a grandfather. Much of “Frost’s” edge of your seat trepidation is shouldered upon Devanny Pinn to take reins of providing the emotional embattlement against the unforgiving weather elements and animal food chain. Armed with nothing more than the dwindling car’s battery to provide heat and a charged lighter as well as whatever lures and first aid accompaniments in her father’s tacklebox, a rather lightly dressed, nearly to term pregnant Abby is pinned to her seat, backed to the edge of a cliff, and must face the cold and wolves until her father retrieves a rescue party. Pinn does what she can to fill in a quivering battle between life and death with a story that’s heavily reliant on a cigarette outlet to ward off a snarling wolf and can burn through seat belts in a single charge. That’s independent move magic for you, folks!
Any kind of solo act surrounding a single location, remote at that, with no other actor or other mobile organic object to feed off and bounce off its energy is a difficult task to undertake, especially on a hyper cost-efficient production. Slagle’s “Frost” is certainly not immune to the difficulties and the filmmakers, and his crew and cast are well aware of the challenges to make the survival thriller engaging despite fluffing and padding the story with filler clichés and needless setup. The production and location value are comparatively impressive against the limitations of the budget with a practical and computer-generated encroaching tundra of snow, ice, and wind that can insidiously invade a cold snap into the viewers bones, creating that intended atmospheric of a hell freezing over complete with the teeth of a hungry wolf, a biting rime, and deadly falling icicles. More obvious than what perhaps Slagle and creative team realize is that “Frost” relies terribly on the shocking climatic scene, a scene so unimaginable and so appalling that it hits all the right gut-checking spots, but the setup to the scene and all the trials and trepidation Abby has to endure doesn’t quite mesh with a well-rounded plight that usually cradles an emotional pull string for the viewer to continuously root for and support those in the thick of the predicament. Honestly, that heaviness for empathy never provides the emotional weight toward the character and never sparks that flame of hope to keep us warm and fuzzy on the inside to then quickly be extinguished by merciless mother nature. There’s also the plausibility of survival and the way that survival instinct is applied that makes “Frost” too far-fetched to be a strong contender in the subgenre. At near subzero temps, Hypothermia can set in in under an hour. In “Frost,” three days of severe snowstorm pummeling has past, segued by scene time stamps, before Abby becomes a popsicle and is delusional. I’m pretty sure with almost nothing to eat and very little warmth, Abby would have expired in under 48 hours. Yet, the 72-hour mark becomes the most chilling, literally and figuratively, in “Frost’s” invigorating third act snack that’s more abominable than it is nutritional!
Cleopatra Entertainment, the cinematic subsidiary of Cleopatra Records delivers a 2-disc Blu-ray set for Brandon Slagle’s icy thriller “Frost.” Presented in a widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio, the 91-minute film has a crisp, lively picture compressed without much to complain about. Banding issues are held to barely any and the details don’t whiteout during the wintery whiteout, leaving key delineations to be present in bold contrasts, especially during the severe snowstorm scenes. Foliage looks thick and green before for the storm with a lot of good textural details on the impaling branches that perforate the car and Abby. The English language 5.1 surround mix conveys the problematic sound design issues that have been consistently found in many of Cleopatra’s releases. Mostly in regard to the dialogue tracks, the dialogue tracks pick up static and other minute ambient noise during microtonal intervals, creating an unwelcoming and stark contrast with a dialogue mix that cuts obviously cuts in and out between character speak and isn’t simultaneous with the score. However, much like with other Cleopatra releases, the score is production and distributor company’s best trademark with a full album including music from various artists, such as L. Shankar, Big Electric Cat, Terry Reid, Rick Wakeman, and amongst others. The 2nd disc, an audio CD, contains the 15-song soundtrack. Other physical noteworthy aspects of the release include the double-sided cover art – one filmic and the other CD listing with both include different variations of the front cover as well as a translucent Blu-ray snapper cast that adds to the snowy theme. Software bonus features include only the theatrical trailer and a still gallery slideshow. Exposure to “Frost” is deep freezing frills for most of the picture but if able to withstand the coldshoulder of cliches, the mare peaks with a blood-filled and tasty horrific morsel that makes the frippery first half worth the wait.