Tuesday, October 12, 2010


(2010) ***1/2

The fatal flaw in "predicament" stories, as JPX calls them, is always that we have an overabundance of trust in the networks we've set up. There are obvious ones, like, if my house is on fire, the fire trucks will put it out. This movie is about one of the not obvious ones. It's a chair lift. It takes us from the bottom of a good time back up to the top of a good time, and in between there's just waiting. But in that waiting time, there's all kinds of people we've put our trust in. There's the guy that clamped the chair to the cable. There's the guy that made the cable so it won't snap. There are the guys running the lift, stopping it if something goes wrong, starting it up again when everything's fine.

If any one of these things just stopped working the way it's supposed to, we'd be screwed, and we'd be totally surprised in our get-screwedness. If we're on a plane we're worried about our plane crashing because it's the most obvious thing that can go wrong. On a ski lift, we're mostly just worried we'll fall off. We never think about the other stuff.

Parker, Dan, and Joe get stuck on a chair lift after the ski resort shuts down for the night (and for the week) because of all kinds of things that are out of their control. Their situation becomes even more perilous because of even more things that are out of their control, like snowstorms and wolves. But the most frustrating parts of the predicament come because of decisions characters make under pressure that just go south.

And it's not even straight stupid shit like, Forgot to Load the Gun, or Didn't Refill the Gas Tank When We Had the Chance. A lot of the times, it's a choice that make sense in the moment, that creates an opening for something bad to happen later. Most of these wind up happening to Parker. She's scarfless, but it's because she was trying to toss it to someone to use as a splint and missed -- amazingly, this isn't even close the biggest fuckup I've seen someone make in a movie during 'Thon this year (I've already made reference to it in the review for that movie. Won't say which, but people who've seen it are thinking, "yeah, that's the biggest fuckup in history."), but it's bad.

She's also missing her right glove, one of many things the characters try to throw at a passing SnowCat to get the driver's attention. You might sensibly ask (as I was, watching it) why nobody had thought to take off their skis or boards until that moment -- having stuff ready to throw would have minimized the likelihood of panicking and throwing something as useful as a glove. But at that point, in Parker's mind, getting the attention of the SnowCat (and now) superseded everything else. And it's a real bummer for her, because having both gloves on would have prevented this from happening the next morning:

Predicament movies aren't everyone's cup of tea, and I get why. I've complained before about movies about characters I don't like. In this case, the complaint would be more like, "why am I stuck here with characters with such shitty luck?" Perfectly valid criticism. But seriously, what horror movie isn't about someone's shitty luck?


50PageMcGee said...

and here's where i rebut the complaints of catfreeek and jpx.

1 - breath -- apparently, when your body temperature is low enough, there isn't enough internal heat to produce steamy breath. this was discovered by the filmmakers who were bewildered as to why steam wasn't showing up in the shots. it was because there just wasn't any.

2 - parker's glove -- i've already gone into the bit about her losing it, but yeah, you're right. put your frickin hand in your pocket. of course, i think a person does this just as a defense against cold. and remember, they're shooting at temperatures that are well below freezing. if she's not sticking it in her pocket, it might be it's so cold that her defense mechanism just isn't kicking in.

3 - cell phones -- they do mention cell phones. Dan and Joe didn't bring theirs because they're trying to be out of the reach of the world (this is deliberate - they say so). Parker doesn't have hers because she left it in the locker -- stated but not explained. she was probably trying to go along with the boys' isolation scheme.

4 - scarves -- dropped in various attempts to get attention, or tie something together.

JPX said...

Nice summary and I'm glad you dug it! I don't care about your fancy biology explanation, if I see people trapped in the cold than I want to see some damn breath and lots of it! Seeing breath makes me feel cold, otherwise I'm left feeling, what's the big deal, it can't be very cold?

Catfreeek said...

My bust on the scarf issue, they were just throwing shit and I truly didn't realize the scarf went. It still doesn't explain why there were no chattering teeth or shivering or even breath. You have to go through stages of freezing before you get to the holy shit stage. Also, if you were at that stage it seems you wouldn't want to make a big speech. I have other issues but that would get into spoilers. Yes, I know I'm nitpicking.

Remember, I didn't hate the film, I just wasn't convinced. Great review those, many valid points.

DCD said...

Another cool view of this movie. I like the varied opinions, since I probably won't bother with the actual movie!

Johnny Sweatpants said...

"On a ski lift, we're mostly just worried we'll fall off. We never think about the other stuff." As I mentioned in JPX's review comments, I think of this exact predicament every time I've ever been on a chairlift.

I'm really curious about this movie now and need to know who (if anyone) survives.

Catfreeek said...

Watch it!!

Octopunk said...

I think I'm going to read the Wiki summary of it right now!

Hmm. Okay. I see.

Yep. Not interested.

Nice review though.

Octopunk said...

Rats. I can't find the damn post with the trailer for Frozen and the long discussion about why predicament movies aren't my thing. Wish I could, because I don't have the stamina to cough it up again.