The Frozen Ground Review

The Frozen Ground

It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to sum up The Frozen Ground as a sort of Alaskan version of Kiss the Girls.

The elements are all there. You have the lawman (Nicholas Cage) who partners up with a girl (Vanessa Hudgens) who has escaped the clutches of her creepy captor, a guy who habitually kidnaps women, imprisons them for a time in his secret den, before murdering them and leaving the bodies out in the wilderness.

So far, so Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd.

There is one small difference however.

The events in Alaska actually happened.

Scott Walker’s film is based on the true story of Robert Hansen, a serial killer who murdered between 17 and 21 women in Alaska in the seventies and eighties.

Cage plays the state trooper who led the investigation which eventually took Hansen down, and John Cusack gives an unnerving, against-type turn as Hansen himself. Replete with creepy horn-rimmed specs.

And to think, the last time these two guys were on screen together was Con Air.

Cage and his mullet were busy growling at people to put the bunny back in the box, whilst Cusack was running around in sandals and humorously obliterating Colm Meany’s vintage Corvette.

But I digress. The Frozen Ground is a decidedly more serious affair.

Which is partly its downfall.

The film’s adherence to its subject matter is admirable, but does present a problem. This is basically a serial killer movie where: the audience know who the bad guy is; the surviving victim knows who the bad guy is; and the cops not only know who the bad guy is, but know exactly where he lives and who he has killed.

Hmmm, I’d like to see the director who could squeeze the suspense out of that premise.

The main cast do their best. Nicholas Cage gives a strong performance as Nicholas Cage, whilst John Cusack provides some memorable moments, particularly during the early part of an interrogation scene halfway through. It’s a shame though that the film doesn’t focus more on Hansen’s background, which is given pretty short shrift.

Hudgens is the real star here though, shining in her heart-of-gold hooker role. She not so much buries her former High Street Musical persona as pole dances all over its grave.

She is vulnerable but feisty as Cindy Paulson, and with the plot zipping by at a mile a minute during the first half hour, gives the audience an anchor character to root for.

Oh, and honourable mention goes to Curtis “Fiddy Cent” Jackson’s small role as a pimp, sporting a barnet that would give even Cage’s vast repertoire of hairpieces a run for its money.

Overall, if you’re interested in the Hansen story and are a die-hard fan of serial killer thrillers, this may be worth a look-see.

For anyone else, it may be time to give Kiss The Girls another spin.

Conor Brennan

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Dates ‘n stuff

July 2013