Freeze Out (2005)

Freeze Out (2005)Freeze Out is a 2005 poker movie released independently. The film follows the story of a poker player who attempts to get revenge on his friends and gain their respect by beating them in a weekly poker game. Freeze Out was financed mainly with director M.J. Loheed’s poker winning’s, similar to the film The Big Blind. Interestingly, all of the actors in Freeze Out were unpaid due to the film’s limited budget of $20,000.

Freeze Out was advertised with the tagline "Lie all you want… just don’t lie to yourself." In poker terminology, a "freeze out" is a single elimination tournament.

Cast and Crew of Freeze Out

Freeze Out was written, produced, and directed by M.J. Loheed, a real poker player. Michael S. Patterson composed the original score for Freeze Out. Karen Korn served as cinematographer, while Tom Gould edited the film.

Freeze Out includes many up-and-coming young actors, including Tom Sharpe as John, Laura Silverman as Sarah, Greg Behrendt as Nick, Kristopher Logan as Chip, Eddie Pepitone as Tim, Julie Thaxter-Gourlay as Mary, Jim Kohn as Ed, and Lorielle New as Janice. The supporting cast includes Catherine Christensen, Stephanie Escajeda, and Sharon Houston.

Plot Synopsis for Freeze Out

Freeze Out is a poker comedy about a man named John who is constantly picked on by his seven friends, all of whom are struggling actors and comedians, during his weekly home poker game. John attends the poker game in order escape the daily grind of working and living in Los Angeles, but eventually grows increasingly frustrated each time he leaves the poker game with more and more stress. The poker game is supposed to be a night of drinking, joking around, and talking about movies and politics, but his friends make fun of his playing skills and use his as the butt of their jokes.

John finally hatches a plan in order to take revenge on his friends, and hopefully earn their respect in the process. Although their normal maximum bet is 25 cents, John decides to raise the stakes and secretly train in order to gain the upper hand against his friends. The ensuing story shows the results of John’s scheme.

about M.J. Loheed, Director of Freeze Out

M.J. Loheed graduated from Vassar College with a film degree in 1992. During the following 10 years, Loheed lived in Western Massachusetts, Chicago, and Las Vegas before taking a job in post-production at New Line Cinema. He also co-founded Spootwerks, an editing boutique.

Loheed took an interest in poker in 1998, after watching the influential poker film "Rounders." Loheed’s poker career began when he started losing money in low-stakes Hold’em games at the Commerce Casino. Despite his initial lack of success, Loheed continued to play poker and improve his game, eventually starting an 85 player poker club with weekly games and monthly No Limit Hold’em tournaments.

Many of the players in Loheed’s poker club were young, struggling Los Angeles residents, just like the characters found in Freeze Out. Loheed used these players as inspiration for his film, and he eventually wrote the script for Freeze Out in 2003. Loheed spent $15,000 of his own money (most of which came from poker winnings) in order to finance Freeze Out. Next, Loheed plans to make an independent monster movie, while continuing his poker exploits.

Loheed has said that thinks he could do an even better job of making Freeze Out if he created it today, due to his deeper knowledge of and love for the game. He has also hinted at a Freeze Out sequel, in which John heads to Las Vegas in order to continue his poker career. Loheed says that his increased poker skills could translate to an even more realistic and fascinating poker film. As of yet, there is no confirmation of a sequel.

Critical Reception of Freeze Out

Freeze Out won a festival prize at the Westwood International Film Festival in the category of Best Feature. The film was also an official selection at the Cinequest Viewer’s Voice Festivl in 2006, as well as the Omaha Film Festival in 2006.

Critical reviews for Freeze Out have been generally positive, with many critics and poker fans citing it as a fine example of the drama and action revolved in a real poker game. Reviews indicate that poker players will be able easily relate to Freeze Out, as it depicts likeable characters playing a familiar game in a realistic fashion.

Consumer reviews of Freeze Out have been similarly positive. The film has solid acting performances, especially from Laura Silverman and Greg Behrendt, and excellent character development, as well as realistic poker matches and dialogue that might remind you of the home game you frequently participate in. Freeze Out currently has a rating of 6.2 out of 10 on the Internet Movie Database.