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06 Sep 2013

Home Video Review: John Cusack Is Compelling as a Serial Killer in This At-Times Monotonous Film

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John Cusack in The Frozen Ground. John Cusack in The Frozen Ground.

The Frozen Ground is based on the true story of Robert Hansen, an Alaskan serial killer currently spending life behind bars for murdering at least 17 women near Anchorage.

Cusack—continuing his recent streak of hideous characters—plays Hansen, the bakery owner who hunted young women and buried their bodies throughout the Alaskan wilderness, undetected by authorities for many years. Nicolas Cage is on hand in “serious” Cage mode as State Trooper Jack Halcombe, who is determined to catch Hansen after Cindy Paulson (Vanessa Hudgens), an exotic dancer, allegedly escapes his clutches.

The movie gets caught in an unfortunate loop regarding Paulson’s willingness to cooperate, and her decisions to avoid authorities. It feels like every other scene focuses on Hudgens sneaking away from Cage and retreating to some seedy area. It gets a little monotonous.

It’s a shame, because Cusack is great as Hansen, as he was in last year’s terrible The Paperboy, in which he played another murderer. Cusack delivers a chilling portrait of a man with no remorse; his performance deserved a better movie.

Hudgens is OK, even when the script lets her down. Cage does nothing special here, although that’s not entirely his fault. The screenplay basically calls for him to run around looking for Paulson the entire time. His few scenes with Cusack are the best ones in the movie.

The film is available to watch via sources including Amazon.com and iTunes; it will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on Oct. 1. 

1 comment

  • Comment Link Fred Graham Tuesday, 08 October 2013 10:14 posted by Fred Graham

    This is a decent but grim movie. Particularly because it pulls no punches in that Cusack (Hansen) is no Hannibal Lector, i.e. cultured, charming (when not eating someone!), etc. but Hansen is a sturring self loathing social misfit who takes out his frustrations on people who ironically he considers subhuman (i.e. street walkers, and strippers) particularly, in the movie at least, the Hudgens character. In case a viewer of "The Frozen Ground" is left unsatisfied with the necessary compression of events, composite characters, etc. that are necessary to produce a movie of less than two hours in length "based on a true story", and want to learn more about the real life serial killer Hansen and the case that inspired the movie one could do worse then read "Fair Game" (http://tinyurl.com/mqssp5z) by Bernard DuClos that was recently republished. Reading it as a companion to the movie will help the viewer of "The Frozen Ground" realize the liberties that were inevitably taken to make it suitable for the silver screen as well as understand elements of Hansen's life and killing spree that the picture did not have time to delve into such as more of Hansen's background (which early on indicated a propensity toward crime) and the backstory of the whole oil pipeline boom that produced the mafia controlled prostitution/strip bar scene that Hudgen's character is entangled in.

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