Frozen With Fear (2000)


Canada. 2000.


Director – Paul Lynch, Screenplay – William Bigelow, Producer – Jean-Marc Felio, Photography – Rene Verzier, Music – Milan Kymlicka, Production Design – Richard Tassé. Production Company – World International Network, LLC/Milagro Films


Bo Derek (Katherine Sullivan), Stephen Shellen (Jack Mize), Wayne Rogers (Charles P. Sullivan III), Stephen Morgan (Detective Bob Kelsey), Dawn McKelvie-Cyr (Sarah Harper), Wally MacKinnon (Detective-Sergeant Al Sanderstin/Albert Heyes), Peggy Gedeon (Charlene), Janet Monid (Dr Eberson)


Three years ago, Katherine Sullivan was attacked by a masked assailant. She now suffers from agoraphobia and will no longer go outdoors. She is startled when her husband Charles, a wealthy property developer who is regularly unfaithful to her, staggers into the home and collapses dead, having been shot. He is followed by police who take the body away. A detective tells her that Charles was involved in arms trading. However, when Katherine tries to contact the morgue to collect the body, they and the police have no trace of Charles and deny turning up to the scene. Katherine calls in private detective Jack Mize to determine what is happening. During the course of the investigation, Jack and Katherine are drawn together and become lovers. While others dismiss Katherine as crazy, Jack starts to believe that someone might be creating an elaborate charade.

Frozen With Fear was a psycho-thriller from the Canadian production company World International Network, LLC, who have produced a number of psycho-thrillers usually for cable. Director Paul Lynch had made a number of horror films during the great period of Canuxploitation in the 1980s including the original Prom Night (1980), Humongous (1982) and Cross Country (1983).

The main selling point that Frozen With Fear had is that it manages to bring 1980s sensation Bo Derek out of retirement. Bo Derek came to fame as Dudley Moore’s fantasy girl in 10 (1979) and then appeared in a handful of movies – Tarzan the Ape Man (1981), Bolero (1984) and Ghosts Can’t Do It (1990) – made by her husband John Derek, which were all premised on her taking her clothes off. Bo’s vacant screen presence and lack of acting ability became a widespread joke and she disappeared in the 1990s after the limited interest in her and John’s ineptly made softcore films waned. Alas, unlike her nearest counterpart, 70s pin-up sensation Farrah Fawcett and her widely decried lack of acting ability at the time, Bo Derek has not done what Farrah did and taken acting lessons in the interim. Farrah managed to successfully reinvent herself and conduct a number of strong roles during the latter half of 1980s. Bo unfortunately has not followed suit.

Frozen With Fear is stuck with the considerable handicap of having to place the non-acting Bo Derek (now aged 44) into a dramatic role. To its credit, the film works around this quite well. Certainly, the plot throws up a number of surprise twists that prove rather captivating – Bo Derek’s husband Wayne Rogers bursting into the house in the opening few minutes and collapsing shot, followed by the police and coroner who take the body away, only for Bo to contact the coroner’s office the next day and find out that there was no body, nor even any police there. There is a fine spin about halfway through when the husband turns up out of the blue perfectly alive and perplexed at what is going on. Up against Bo is Stephen Shellen who has a rugged handsomeness and the film makes a convincing effort to chart the relationship between the two.

The suspense generated throughout is reasonable. Unfortunately, despite starting well, Frozen With Fear starts to unravel in the latter half. It eventually unveils as a Les Diaboliques (1955)-styled plot of increasing contrivation designed to drive somebody mad. The cliches soon start to appear – the woman with the intense hysterical phobia having to overcome it at the climax a la The Spiral Staircase (1946); even the cliche of the killer returning from the dead one last time after everybody assumes that they have been despatched.

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