It Can Be a Cold, Cruel World
Chris Kavan - wrote on 09/22/13
Considering how bad a rap Nicolas Cage has got recently in terms of his choice of movies, my expectations weren't particularly high for this serial killer thriller. And although no one is likely to win any acting awards for this one, I have to say that on the whole Frozen Ground keeps the tension ramped up and in the end is a decent film, especially for those who like true crime dramas.
Based on the real-life murders of Robert Hansen (played by John Cusack) - set in Alaska - a man who prowled the seedier side and murdered many young women - many of them prostitutes. Although questioned early on - he was released due to lack of evidence but Office Jack Halcombe (Cage) catches a break when a Cindy (Vanessa Hudgens - trying hard to shake her Disney image once and for all) escapes and offer the only hope of putting him behind bars.
But of course things aren't that simple as they close in on being able to pin down Hansen, he is trying everything he can to silence Cindy. Supporting cast includes 50 Cent as Cindy's one-time pimp, Dean Norris as a fellow officer helping the investigation, Radha Mitchell as Halcombe's wife and Kevin Dunn as another fellow officer. The movie doesn't revel in a lot of violence (much of it is implied, though Hansen is shown hunting one of his girls) but it also doesn't shy away from showing the underbelly of society - drug use, prostitution - it's all shown.
The main draw is that the characters are actually fleshed out - we get a good idea of where each of the three main characters are coming from - both good and evil are presented in stark contrast. Like all good serial killers, Hansen doesn't come off as a monster in real life - though you can tel there's something off about him even in the best of times. Still, I always think that the scariest portrayals of evil are not monsters wearing masks or with chainsaws - but the next door neighbor who is hiding a dark secret.
Things may be played a little over-the-top but it wasn't as bad as I expected - Hudgens tries a bit too hard at portraying a "bad" girl but it doesn't feel like parody. While the movie can't replace the sheer power of, say, Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer in terms of defining the serial killer thriller - it is a solid film with a compelling story to tell and it reminds us that the real monsters aren't found in the movies but right next door.