Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The latest contained-space thriller: Salomon/Doganoglu/Weisfeld's FREEZER

What initially seemed different, creepy, promising and fun -- single-room/contai-ned space thrillers such as ATMBrake, Buried, Devil, Elevator and Vehicle 14 -- is beginning to look a little long in the tooth, as more and movie-makers hop on the band-wagon and threaten to bring this sub-genre to a halt by virtue of the weight of sheer numbers, not to mention content that's looking more and more been-there/done-that. The latest addition to the group is FREEZER (hmmm.... I just noticed, too, that so many of these films sport a single-word title, as though the contained space does not leave room for even a second word), the product of director/cinematographer Mikael Salomon (shown below), and screen-writers Tom Doganoglu and newcomer Shane Weisfeld.

Freezer is efficient, fast-moving and short, with a number of surprises and twists along the way. It's a decent enough time-waster, for sure, but given the number of this kind of movie you may have already seen, it breaks no new ground.

In fact, it gets off to a bit of a rocky start, thanks to its wavering tone. A poor (but awfully sexy) schlub (Dylan McDermott, below) wakes up to find himself bound-arms-and-legs in a meat freezer. He is then assaulted by a couple of nasty Russian mob guys and told that, if he doesn't give back "the money," he'll be killed. You might think that a guy in that position would be non-plussed at best, scared out of his wits at worst. Instead, our "hero" keeps coming back with would-be clever zingers to toss in the face of his captors. This goes on for quite awhile.

Possible spoiler ahead: This silly tonal dissonance makes more sense by the time you've reached the end of the film, but getting into it and buying it all will take a suspension of disbelief lasting too long for many viewers.

Fortunately, Freezer has a number of surprises up its sleeve. These keep coming with enough regularity to hold interest as the movie opens up to include more and more characters, while still taking place in that confounded frozen space.

In addition to the none-too-bright Russian mobsters (one of whom, Andrey Ivchenko, is shown far right, giving our hero a bear hug), as well as Peter Facinelli (below), playing a wounded cop, hot on the trail of the Russian mob.

Most luscious of all, of course, is the mob's gun moll and girlfriend of its leader's son, played by Yuliya Snigir (below, a hottie from Russia who is also a Chess Master, last seen over here in A Good Day to Die Hard).

Everyone does a creditable job, given the twists and turns they're asked to make, and I suspect that, even if you're a regular fan of movies like this, you won't quite have figured it all out until the conclusion. Even then, however, you may be likely to ask, "So what?"

Freezer, from Anchor Bay Films and running just 82 minutes  opens this Friday, January 17, in Los Angeles at Laemmle's NoHo 7. It will make its Blu-ray/DVDebut, as well as appearing on VOD, the following Tuesday, January 21.

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