The Frozen Ground tells the true story of Robert Hansen, an Alaskan man who is infamous for being one of craftier serial killers in Alaskan history. One could immediately dismiss this film as another money grab by Nicolas Cage, but to do that you would miss a rather interesting character study of a serial killer, the cop tracking him and the serial killer’s victim that escaped. As I stated, The Frozen Ground is a true story and John Cusack plays Hansen with a reserved coolness and when it is all said and done, Hansen was a real cold son of a bitch. The film features Cage as Jack Halcombe who is an actual fictional character based on the real cop who caught Hansen, Glenn Flothe. Flothe is a dogged police officer who tracked Hansen for 13 years (Hansen’s intelligence and bureaucratic red tape were the primary reasons for the difficult arrest). Both Hansen and Flothe were meticulous and both creatures of habits, but Hansen was well known in the community and well liked. No one ever suspected he was a savagely brutal killer or prostitutes. Owner of a local bakery, Hansen spent most of his days working but at night and on the weekends he would kidnap, torture and then kill prostitutes. As an accomplished pilot, as well, he would then transport the bodies to a remote cabin and bury them out in the middle of nowhere, before you know there is ten feet of snow and the frozen ground would seal up the victim’s identity and any evidence linking Hansen to the killings. One of his victims, however, Cindy Paulson manages to escape, but despite Flothe’s nobelist intentions to make her a part of his own family, she insists on fleeing back to the Alaskan streets. When Hansen finds out she is still alive, it is a race to for Flothe to find her before Hansen does.
The Frozen Ground plays like a movie of the week, but writer and director Scott Walker has planned on that because I felt very close to all of the action on screen. Walker is wise to keep the action and the dialogue straight forward and everything on a small scale. In doing so the film feels very real. When Cusack is on screen as Hansen he delivers some very cold behavior. I will never look at Cusack the same ever again. Cage is quite good here as the fictional Halcombe and it is good to see him stretch his acting legs, so to speak, after watching him collect a check for SOME UNBELIEVABLY HORRIBLE CRAP, lately. Vanessa Hudgens really surprised me with her performance as Cindy Paulson. Most films the prostitutes seem to hate what they do and for whatever reasons, I never really understood that. In The Frozen Ground, Paulson seemed to like being a prostitute. She even tells Halcombe is that she WANTS to go back on the streets regardless of the consequences. But when she realizes that Hansen is gunning for her, she tries to run but enter 50 Cent as her pimp and now you have some real tension. All three men are looking for Cindy and she is running out of places to hide. Lorne Balfe provides an effective orchestral score that ramps up the ticking of the investigative clock. The Frozen Ground has a few cliches, however with the lovely Radha Mitchell as Holcombe’s always suffering wife of a police officer. They have the usual arguments about his work and does he love his work more than his family. Mitchell is too fine of an actress to waste in this kind of whiny role. Also, what would a cop movie be without the always bitching Chief Of Police at loggerheads with Halcombe. Still, The Frozen Ground is a solid and well made police thriller and, despite some cliches it is worth watching.