Freezer: Film Review

The decent B-movie plot wobbles under unconvincing pulp dialogue and performances.

Dylan McDermott plays a man held captive in a walk-in freezer by Russian gangsters.

Dylan McDermott tries hard to be an Everyman Philip Marlowe in Freezer, wisecracking his way through beatings from a handful of Russian thugs who insist he has stolen $8 million from them. Veteran cinematographer/TV director Mikael Salomon should have looked harder for material on this rare feature outing: The script, by neophytes Tom Doganoglu and Shane Weisfeld, makes him look like an amateur aping his favorite hard-boiled crime flicks. The single-location gimmick surely kept production costs down. Even so, theatrical revenue prevideo is unlikely to cover much of the budget.

McDermott plays Robert Saunders, who enters the film by being thrown into a walk-in restaurant freezer. "Happy fuckin' birthday," he mutters to himself as he tears a plastic bag from his head and gets loose of hand and leg restraints. He'd been trying to have a nice celebratory dinner in Brighton Beach when goons cold-cocked him and brought him here.

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Soon, said goons are interrogating him, insisting that they know he stole the money and are going to torture him until he reveals its location. Saunders alternates between protestations of innocence and the kind of smart-aleck banter that truly innocent men rarely make. "Baby, I wouldn't give you the ice off my eyeballs," the freezing prisoner says to Alisa (Yuliya Snigir), the woman who arrives to play good cop after the thugs' threats get them nowhere. That's about as imaginative as the dialogue gets here, and McDermott struggles to make it convincing.

The script finds a surprising number of twists within its claustrophobic setting: A lost cell phone puts Saunders in contact with someone claiming to be a police detective; a near-death man (Peter Facinelli) hidden behind some boxes of food offers clues about what's really going on; and Saunders' experience as a mechanic offers a possible escape plan.

These developments keep the film watchable, but few genre fans will fail to guess the direction in which this is heading. All viewers, though, will scratch their heads at a final plot point, an unnecessary gesture at odds with any conceivable motivation.

Production Company: Envision Media Arts

Cast: Dylan McDermott, Peter Facinelli, Yuliya Snigir, Milan Malisic, Andrey Ivchenko, Pascal Petardi, David McNally, Markus Parillo

Director: Mikael Salomon

Screenwriters: Tom Doganoglu, Shane Weisfeld

Producers: Rhonda Baker, Lisa Byrne, David Buelow, Lee Nelson

Executive producers: Mark Manuel, Ted O'Neal, Matthew Therrell, Tom Doganoglu

Director of photography: John Dyer

Production designer: Ken Rempel

Music: David C. Williams

Costume designer: Sharon E. Templeman

Editor: Bridget Durnford

Rated R, 81 minutes

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