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New Release Review - The Frozen Ground

True story of Alaska's most prolific serial killer.

Directed by: Scott Walker
Starring: Vanessa Hudgens, Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, Curtis Jackson


Anchorage, Alaska, 1984. For the previous 13 years, Robert Hansen (Cusack) has been abducting young women who he sexually assaults in his cabin before flying them to the Alaskan woods where he shoots them and buries their corpses. His latest abductee, Cindy Paulson (Hudgens), manages to escape his clutches but, being a prostitute, the police fail to take her seriously. Alaska State Trooper Jack Halcombe (Cage), however, vows to take down Hansen and enlists the aid of Paulson but the young woman is reluctant and ends up placing herself in even more danger.
Nicolas Cage has long been associated with bad movies but his latest film sees him enter the realm of bad taste. Based on a horrific true story, 'The Frozen Ground' treats its subject and the parties involved with little respect, cashing in on a series of gruesome crimes in the most tasteless manner possible. At the movie's end we're told the film is dedicated to Hansen's victims, whose photos are displayed onscreen while the most inappropriately cheesy piece of upbeat rock music plays over the soundtrack. Writer/director Walker is completely out of his depth with this kind of material, his script riddled with cliched characters and dumb dialogue, his direction as bland as a TV 'Law & Order' type procedural drama.
Most of the cast seem to have agreed to their roles in this film in a failed attempt to prove themselves as "serious" actors. This is certainly the darkest fare we've seen Cage in for quite some time but despite being one of his more subtle performances, we still can't help but see Crazy Cage, just in a slightly toned down version. Like Cage, Cusack is two decades past his prime and with this, his role in 'The Paperboy', and his upcoming turn as Nixon in 'The Butler' (or whatever they plan to call it following a court case which ruled that name out), seems determined to reinvent himself as the go-to-guy for creepiness. Frankly, he's just dull in these sort of roles and the sooner he returns to comic fare the better. Jackson is more well known as the rapper '50 Cent' but has been carving out an acting career which seems to be going nowhere. His resume is filled with stereotypical "gangsta" roles and that's exactly what we get once more here. Conversely, Hudgens' career transformation from Disney popette to "bad girl" seems to be flowing along nicely and she's by far the best thing about this, though her character is as cliched a rendition of a "hooker with a heart of gold" as they come. She's also possibly the world's most attractive meth-addict.
On paper, 'The Frozen Ground' sounds like a winner, a gripping manhunt set against a cinematic backdrop, 'Zodiac' meets 'Insomnia'. Walker has wasted such an opportunity and if you were to watch both the aforementioned movies back to back, their combined 275 minute running time would seem a lot shorter than the 105 minutes you'll endure here.
4/10


Eric Hillis

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