Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 23, 2022)
“Human against nature” acts as a dramatic theme that goes back centuries, if not millennia. With 2022’s Frost, we get another spin on this ancient topic.
After five years apart, Abby (Devanny Pinn) decides to reunite with her estranged father Grant (Vernon Wells). With a baby on the way, she wants her unborn child to enjoy a relationship with its grandfather.
In the midst of this bonding experience, disaster strikes. A car accident leaves Abby trapped in a car with a massive snowstorm on the way, a situation that creates a literal life or death challenge.
If you look up “workhorse actor”, you’ll probably find a picture of Wells attached. Not only does IMDB show 243 credits across his nearly 50-year-career, but also Wells shows 17 projects just for 2022 alone!
When does the man sleep?
While Wells appeared in notable projects like Road Warrior, Commando and Innerspace back in the 1980s, his credits since then lean toward the “anything for a buck” category. Into that domain falls Frost, a wholly undistinguished project that likely appealed to Wells because it involved a paycheck.
Not that I can blame the movie’s failings on Wells, as he actually offers a reasonably good performance. Outside of literally phoned in material with Abby’s friend Sasha (Venus DeMilo Thomas), no humans appear here beyond Wells and Pinn, so those two need to carry the whole load.
No one will call Wells’ work Oscar-caliber, but he at least musters a professional performance. Unfortunately, Pinn seems more stilted and amateurish, which damages the film.
Or Pinn might hurt the movie if it didn’t create so much self-harm. We don’t expect much from a tale like this beyond survival suspense, but Frost can’t even churn that emotion from its stale tale.
Some of the issues come from the stiff dialogue. Our “getting to know you” moments with Abby and Grant feel both contrived and phony, so they fail to launch the story in a compelling manner.
The tension in a movie like Frost generally stems from the viewer’s own fears. Any one of us can envision involvement in an accident that leaves us vulnerable.
Unfortunately, Frost seems so dull and without momentum that the audience seems unlikely to really connect to the danger. Instead, the whole enterprise comes across as so flat and banal that no real impact emerges.
Again, the reliance on Pinn’s unconvincing performance doesn’t help. It takes a serious talent to pull off so many scenes of isolation and fear, and she just can’t do it.
That said, given the weaknesses of the script and most other facets of the production, Meryl Streep probably couldn’t have done much with the role either, as it leaves the actor with little to do other than grunt in pain for most of the movie. At the end, Frost then forces Pinn to act out some of the most ridiculous and idiotic scenes committed to film, so perhaps I should pity her more than criticize her.
After 65 minutes of tedium, Frost tries to redeem itself with a finale so bleak and unpleasant that I can’t figure out who thought it was a good idea. Undercutting audience expectations works when there’s a purpose, but Frost just seems dark and ugly as an attempt to distract the viewer from its utter lack of creative inspiration.