The movie is about the true life hunt for the real life serial killer in Alaska, Robert Hansen. It follows Halcombe (Nicolas Cage), as he works with Cindy (Vanessa Hudgens) to track down killer Hansen (Cusack). Cindy was taken by Hansen, but managed to escape. Though most cops did not take her story seriously since she is a prostitute and not to be believed. Halcombe works for the state troopers and they start to connect many missing persons cases that lead them to Cindy and to Hansen.
There’s not really anything unique or new to be found in this movie. Most thrillers about hunting serial killers (real or otherwise) have a pretty similar pattern. You have your reluctant victim, your passionate cop with troubles at home, people that try to get in their way, and a killer that tries to remain one step ahead. I’ve seen it before, you’ve seen it before. However, the details in between that and how it’s put together determine if the movie is worth watching or not. Despite the known pattern The Frozen Ground puts itself together in such a way that it’s worth watching.
John Cusack does a great job as Hansen switching from appearing weak, to average, to down right scary with believability and ease. Cage does a really good job, probably to the surprise of many. He seemed to remember what a decent actor he was before he started hamming up every role, and goes back to more believable, and likable, roots that used to mark his older films. Even Hudgens manages to do a solid job as Cindy. There are a few awkward moments, with missteps with the character development, but overall the three leads keep you interested. Sadly the supporting crew is forgettable at best, some of them have their one moment, many of them do not. The movie was clearly meant to be carried by Cusack and Cage so it feels like a lack of effort was given to the rest.
The Alaskan setting also serves the movie well. The creators of this film knew they had an opportunity with their story taking place in Alaska and jumped on it. The entire movie feels cold, dark, and isolated. The setting might have been chosen for them, but they did a lot with it and it works very well.
The story is also sad, and Hansen is more than just a little bit sickening. The truth is shown over and over in this film, that Hansen was not that good of a serial killer, but that people just cared that little about who he was killing. The cases took way too long to be connected. The man had been jailed for rape, yet when Cindy accused him they believed him over her. Even once Halcombe’s crew gets involved many outside forces dig their heels in to slow them down. The frustration that Cindy, Halcombe, and the few others trying to help them feel can easily be mirrored by the audience.
I can’t think of a single moment that really stands out to me to make this movie feel different. Yet despite that I still really enjoyed it. Not every movie needs to reinvent the wheel, as long as a movie remains entertaining it’s sometimes okay to see a movie just do the best with it. I would say this is that movie, you aren’t going to write essays on how it changed the film industry, but you can still enjoy it.
The main three stars do a great job, but the rest of the cast hurts their performance a little. The setting works well for the story, and the story sticks with you. Despite that there’s nothing really new here so it feels like enjoying something you already have before. It’s good, but falls short of being great.