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The Frozen Ground

The Frozen Ground: Gruesome True Story of Serial Killer Robert Hansen

  • John CusackNicolas Cage...
  • Action & AdventureThriller
  • Scott Walker
reviewed by
Marija Loncarevic
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The Frozen Ground: Gruesome True Story of Serial Killer Robert Hansen

Based on a true story, The Frozen Ground comes from first-time writer and director, Scott Walker. The film focuses on serial killer, Robert Hansen; the man who brutally murdered between 17 and 21 young women during the late 70’s and early 80’s in Alaska.

With only two weeks away from his transfer out of the icy wilderness of the town of Anchorage, State Trooper Jack Holcombe (Cage) finds himself being pulled into the case of Cindy Paulson (Hudgens); a young prostitute who was discovered screaming and chained up in a hotel room, after an unpleasant encounter with local bakery owner, Richard Hansen (Cusack).

Much to the annoyance of his wife, Allie (Mitchell), Holcombe extends his stay to offer his expertise, especially since the local authorities seem to be getting nowhere with the case. Determined to help, Holcombe takes the troubled teen under his wing and examines all of the evidence at hand. 

Despite having an alibi, all evidence points in the direction of Hansen – despite his reputation as a family man devoted to his community. But the deeper Holcombe digs, the more macabre the investigation becomes.

While Cage’s most recent career choices might not have been the wisest ones – see Stolen, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance and Trespass – the veteran actor proves to be a solid, reliable lead.  His reserved and unforthcoming approach is refreshing, and with his hair relatively intact, Cage manages to stand strong in the face of a rather unfocused and fuzzy script.

Cusack – who last shared the screen with Cage in the 1997’s Con Air is equally sound, as he manages to capture Hansen’s physical characteristics and threatening aura. Disney star, Hudgens, meanwhile infuses plenty of heart into the story as a young, damaged girl.

Despite the film’s relatively strong cast, Walker’s direction is a stumbling mess in comparison. Portraying a real-life story is often a challenge; audiences invariably know the outcome, so creating and maintaining a suspenseful plot is all the more tricky.

Unfortunately for Walker, the suspense and intrigue is weakened by gaping plot holes, needlessly gruesome detailand poor dialogue, which all ends up severely undermining the heart of the story.

The Frozen Ground is neither chilling nor as unsettling as it should have been. Although the film makes good use of the striking, wintry Alaskan landscape, it fails to both utilise the skills of its accomplished cast and, more importantly, it fails to bring what is a chilling true story to life.

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Robert Hansen was convicted in 1983 and is currently serving a 461 years sentence in Sewerd, Alaska.

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