Based on the true story of serial killer Robert Christian Hansen who kidnapped, raped and killed over 20 young women near Anchorage, Alaska between 1971 and 1983, The Frozen Ground focuses on the experience of Cindy Paulson, who at the age of 17 was abducted by Hansen.
Paulsen is played by Vanessa Hudgens as she continues to leave her Disney child star stereotype in the dust, expanding her range as a serious actress after her turn earlier this year in Spring Breakers with a truly gritty performance. Miley Cyrus should take some notes, this is how you transition from child star to bigger and better things.
Nicolas Cage turns in his best work in recent memory as Sgt. Jack Halcombe, the Alaskan State Trooper who is tasked with catching Hansen. Cage has been in so many dreadful movies over the past few years, it's both a surprise and welcome sight to watch him in this film. Cage plays Jack with a level of quiet compassion that reminded me that he used to be considered a pretty decent actor. We can only hope this role will bring him back to doing quality work.
Much like Cage, I was also happy with how John Cusack delivered the role of serial killer Robert Hansen. There is a creepy undertone to Cusack's performance that helped remind me that despite the fact that this is a movie, the man he is playing is very real and was out there for over a decade stalking and killing young women.
I would have liked to have seen more of Robert Hansen's world during the movie but because much of the story is told from the perspective of Halcombe and Paulsen we don’t get as much as I would have liked. For me it left parts of the film feeling somewhat disjointed.
Director Scott Walker also wrote the script. When you consider that this is his first film, I feel like he has done a pretty good job. The mid 80's Alaskan setting is dreary and the musical score nicely brings that feeling home. The Frozen Ground is not a perfect movie but it was much better than I would have expected and would make a pretty decent rental for anyone that enjoys true crime thrillers.
-Review by Brian Rohe