The Frozen Ground tells a harrowing true story in a plain Jane conventional way. The emotional weight and stress in the hunt for a notorious Alaskan serial killer rings, but its narrative formatting is determined to make it unmemorable, placing Scott Walker’s film awash in a homicidal sea with other generic crime thrillers.
The Frozen Ground feels dialled back regarding its aggressiveness towards the audience and its lead performance from Nicolas Cage playing Sgt. Jack Halcombe, who’s paired with the grisly case which slowly becomes something more personal as he seeks out seemingly pleasant Robert Hansen.
The muted factors in how Walker handles his script (to which he also wrote) could be because he’s aiming his film towards an older audience – the A&E crowd – that easily eats up mysteries such as the one that occurred in Anchorage.
As for Cage, maybe he’s reeling in his audacity because he wants to do justice with his portrayal for accuracy reasons. So, to all those who have been wanting Cage to yell and mug less in his movies: The Frozen Ground may win you back.
The rest of the cast is filled out with character actors who all do a very good job – even if they are not necessarily leaping out of their comfort zone. However, John Cusack plays the criminal on the loose. Cusack pulls off a stellar creepy performance to which will always have your skin crawling. It’s great to see an actor as talented as he is show movie goers that he’s even more capable than we thought.
Most of all, I see The Frozen Ground as a terrific vehicle for Vanessa Hudgens to show audiences that she can tackle more adult material. The High School Musical star has been making a shattering transition to more mature work with this year’s polarizing Spring Breakers and now with Walker’s flick.
Walker knows how to direct her well and Hudgens is dynamite portraying Cindy Paulson – a fearful but jagged victim of Hansen’s who luckily escaped. The role is the heaviest she’s played yet, but she effortlessly shows audiences that she is on the right track to becoming a full fledged movie star.
While The Frozen Ground may not score points for originality, the absorbing acting and Walker’s eerie utilization of the film’s crisp, cold Alaskan backdrop earns it some merit and will meet any undemanding expectations. It, or the story it’s based on, shouldn’t go forgotten.