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The Frozen Ground (2013)

the frozen ground movie poster

The Frozen Ground (2013) – An Alaska State Trooper partners with a young woman who escaped the clutches of serial killer Robert Hansen to bring the murderer to justice. Based on actual events.

Cast:

Nicolas Cage – Jack Halcombe
Vanessa Hudgens – Cindy Paulson
Dean Norris – Sgt. Lyle Haugsven
John Cusack – Robert Hansen
Radha Mitchell – Allie Halcombe
Jodi Lyn O’Keefe – Chelle Ringell
50 Cent – Pimp Clate Johnson

Set in 1983 Alaska, The Frozen Ground is based on a gruesome true story of the hunt for serial killer Robert Hansen. Hansen stalked and murdered between 17 and 21 young women, kidnapping them and taking them out to the Alaskan wilderness where he shot and buried them. In this movie, Detective Jack Halcombe (Nicolas Cage) is preparing to leave Anchorage with his wife Allie (Radha Mitchell) and children, when he receives a call that the body of a young woman has been found in the icy wilderness. The autopsy results are harrowing and suggest possible links with other missing women.

frozen ground autopsy

Soon after this discovery, Jack receives a file on Cindy Paulson (Vanessa Hudgens), a 17-year-old prostitute, who claims that she escaped from the clutches of Robert Hansen (John Cusack), who held her hostage and raped her.

frozen ground cage hudgens

Convinced that Hansen is a dangerous serial killer, Jack works tirelessly to build a case against his prime suspect aided by Sergeant Lyle Haugsven (Dean Norris).

frozen ground

The plot gathers a slow, steady momentum, building to the inevitable final showdown between Jack and his cunning adversary. The movie leaves no ambiguity as to Hansen’s character pretty early in the proceedings. He’s shown to be a predator, who behind a façade of domestic bliss and soft-spoken demeanour hides a vile streak of violence.

Nicolas Cage (with normal hair and everything!) has not been this good in a long time, and John Cusack is as cold as ice and perfectly suited to his creepy role. Hudgens on the other hand is the weak link for me. She’s not bad, just ineffectual. I struggled to connect to her character as much as I should have after what she had been through. She looks good though! I’m a big fan of Radha Mitchell but she was barely used here, and for his fans out there Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson pops up a couple of times and doesn’t look out-of-place.

hudgens strippe

With a rumoured $27 million dollar budget, the movie certainly looks beautiful. Lots of aerial and mountain range shots, snowy city streets and just the all round atmosphere was done so well. Much different to the style and standard we’ve seen from Cage’s recent straight to home-video efforts. Maybe this will spark a mini revival for him, he still commands the screen when he gets a role he can sink his teeth into.

The Frozen Ground doesn’t shy away from showing the red stuff. Cusack’s character loves to torture and hunt these girls, and whilst not graphic in the same way a lot of movies I review are, there are a few scenes here the more squeamish among you may not enjoy.

frozen ground cusack

It’s certainly a slow burn and writer-director Scott Walker is in no hurry to draw his debut feature to a nail-biting conclusion. The Frozen Ground is a solid genre piece, which features all the usual clichés such as the grizzled cop close to retirement, the working girl who has been abused by the system and the family man with a sadistic streak, but still delivers and is well worthy of your time.

Did-you-know

In this movie, Nicolas Cage plays the law enforcement officer that is trying to apprehend John Cusack. In Con Air, the roles were reversed; Cusack was trying to apprehend Cage.

Ratings07

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74 Comments

  1. Yes, I heard of this and really want to check it out. Thanks, Tyson.

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    • Well worth it, although all the posters comparing it to Se7en aren’t ideal……not in the same league obviously, but still a good film with solid performances. Thanks Michael 🙂

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  2. theipc

     /  September 11, 2013

    HMMM never heard of this – this sounds good!

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    • It is good! One of those that hit cinemas and home video around the same time last month here, but I enjoyed it and I think you might like it. 🙂

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  3. Can’t say I’ve forgiven Cage for his Indescretions yet but this sounds not too bad, man. I’ll check it out on your recommendation. Solid write-up, bro!

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    • I try and remember the man Cage used to be. This is more like his old school performances, and no crazy hair or accents. It’s pretty good mate, and the best I’ve seen Cusack for a while too. Cheers Mark 🙂

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      • I actually used to really like his crazy shit: Wild At Heart, Moonstruck, Peggy Sue Got Married and, of course, Raising Arizona. He’s always been a good actor but his choices have been dire.

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        • Bringing out the Dead is still up there as one of my faves of his. I like his zany stuff you mention, but Con Air & Face Off, I mean, those were fucking great movies!! 🙂

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        • Exactly! All three of those were great and I really liked Lord of War, but he lost his way, man. I hope, like you say, that this film gets him back on track.

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        • You know I loved Lord of War since my man crush was in it. I just want Cage to stop doing shit like Season of the Witch and straight to dvd crap like Trespass etc.

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        • Haha! Your man crush? Mr.Leto? 😉

          It’s the straight to DVD shit that’s put me right off him. Who knows, though. If Matthew McConaughey can make a comeback from all the shit he was doing, Cage still has a chance.

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        • I do love me some Leto. 🙂

          Yup, McConaughey has been on a huge hot streak, and his TV show next year with HBO looks great. Cage just needs some serious roles and stop working any old crap that turns up. He deserves better.

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        • McConaughey has actually become one of my favourite actors of late. I’ve been thoroughly impressed with his output. Speaking of which Dallas Buyers Club has him and your man crush (dressed in drag) in it. 😉

          It would be great to have the same enthusiasm for Cage one day. He was a favourite of mine in the past.

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        • Oh yeah, Dallas Buyers, cant wait. Jared is walking away with that Oscar 😉

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        • He might well do that. There’s talk that McC could be in the running too.

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        • I hope they both win, actor & supporting. Well, even a nomination like Bobby got would be amazing.

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        • At least a nomination would kick them up to the level they belong.

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        • Definitely, although Leto is spending too much time aiming for world domination with his band and not really acting much. Shame, but I love his acting and music so Im happy either way!

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        • Yeah, I’ll really need to check his band out. I’ve never heard them before. What’s their name again?

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        • 30 Seconds To Mars. 3 main albums have been brilliant, all different and the videos for the songs are all like mini movies. The Shining is one video for example. He is a talented director Leto.

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        • 30 seconds to Mars! That’s right! I remember talking to you before about them. I’ll give youtube a whirl.

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        • Start with THE KILL. Thats the Shining style video, and my favourite song. Bear in mind thats when he was filming Chapter 27 so was a little fatter! A bit older, and the new stuff is a little more poppy, but The Kill is incredible.

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        • I’ll do just that. Nice one, man! I’ll let you know what I think.

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        • If you hate it things could get awkward between us 😉

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        • Haha! I’m even more intrigued to listen now. I wouldn’t want to mess with your man crush. 😉

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        • I don’t care, I’ve met him, and went to a nervous wreck trying to speak to him. I’ll never forget that day!

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        • Haha! I remember you telling me that. By the way, have you seen Mr. Nobody? Great little surreal Sci-Fi film with Leto.

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        • Of course man, bought the blu ray as soon as it came out. Love it, definitely deserved more acclaim and praise. Everyone seems to love it that saw it, but only about 5 people ever saw it!!

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        • Yeah, not many seen it but I haven’t heard a bad word about it. My mum even enjoyed and its just not something I’d ever have thought she’d get into. She’s the only person I know personally who has seen it and that’s only because I gave her it. Definitely deserves a bigger audience. 😉

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        • I made Carly watch it and she liked it. I think someone picked it for their Desert Island list. Could of been Nostra, I’ll have to check. Great to see though 🙂

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        • Yeah, I think I’ll pass it on to my missus. I think it’s something she’d like too. Need to amass more fans of it.

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        • I hoped when Kruger made Inglorious Basterds it may drive more people to checking it out since they were released around the same time. Wasn’t to be sadly. Huge budget too, no idea why they didnt release it properly.

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  4. Nice positive-ish review for the film. I need to see it for Cage alone, and you make it sound much better than what I have heard. I am now excited to watch it. Thanks, Ty.

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    • I know, couldnt really commit to a higher score, just wasn’t quite hitting all the notes. Still good though, and Cage wasn’t his recent hammy self, which was good to see. Plus, Cusack tortures people 🙂

      Cheers Nick

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  5. Cage back on form? Jolly good! By the way your Blogathon post will be up tomorrow buddy.

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    • Yeah, not top form obviously, but better than recent memory tells me anyway. 🙂

      And thats cool, cant wait to see all the obvious bits I missed out! I’ll be mortified, really want to do it justice!

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  6. It much better than what you’d expect. I agree with your assessment.

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  7. A movie where Nicolas Cage isn’t the crazy one? Hmm, I’m intrigued… 😉

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  8. This is the kind of movie we always watch when it comes to cable. A good violent entertainment fix.

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    • I think you’ll both like it, as theres a good (but dark) story, and its acted out well. Nothing too special, but a good watch all the same. I’ll definitely watch it again when it hits TV

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  9. I’ve never heard of this. I’m usually all over Nicholas Cage films! I’m definitely giving this a shot. Thanks for the review :]

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    • Sprung up on me too, it was just out and I was glad I gave it a chance. Everyone should be all over Cage films!! 😉

      You’re welcome, and thanks for stopping by!

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      • After watching the two terrible Ghost Rider movies I need to see something good from Cage. I hope I enjoy this. I’m watching it tonight.

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        • And if you hate this movie I expect you’ll never trust a recommendation from me again!! Haha, I hope you like it, let me know 🙂

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        • I laughed harder then I should have on your reply. I have a feeling that i’m going to really like this movie. John Cusack, and Nicholas Cage in the same movie has to be a good thing :}

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        • Good to hear! Yeah, plus 50 Cent of course!! Strippers look hot at least if you hate the rest of it. But, if you like the 2 guys you mention, this should keep you happy as its been a while since they did anything this solid. Not spectacular, but still, solid 🙂

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  10. Nice man! Yea I’ve had to cover this one a bit on AITH and it looked decent enough. Glad to see you gave it a decent score. Nic Cage is the shit! (sometimes).

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  11. Tom

     /  September 12, 2013

    Personally, I think Cusack and Cage have a gay thing together — that’s why the roles will always continue to be reversed. Great review man, I can’t wait to check this one out.

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  12. Had this one earmarked as a rental, an on form Cage is still good fun. Good work dude.

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  13. After The Paperboy and now this, Cusack is risking being typecast as a creepy murderous bastard.

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    • Still not seen Paperboy, but he suits the role as a creepy killer. Doing a lot more horror and dark thrillers these days, plus the lead on Stephen Kings Cell upcoming. Hope he does it justice, loved the book.

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  14. Victor De Leon

     /  September 12, 2013

    Can’t wait to see this. I have it lined up for review as well. I feel I come to the same conclusions as yourself after I’ve watched it 🙂 Cusack and Cage (With normal hair! LOL) both look amazing in this movie. Good job, Tyson and thanks!

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  15. Hmmmm Supposedly this was released a few weeks ago yet I have never heard of it. I think it must be some kind of anti-Nick Cage conspiracy. This actually does not sound terrible and I might try and give it a go. Yeah I just checked not playing anywhere near me but I can stream it for $7 on Itunes. 🙂

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  16. Whew, glad it’s good. I enjoyed one of Cage’s more recent action/thriller flicks, so I agree that he still has some life in him yet. He just needs to pick better roles (like this, I guess).

    I’m also glad 50 Cent is really trying to act outside of his comfort zone, at least according to his character name.

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    • Which one was that? I saw Trespass but wasn’t too keen.

      haha, yeah good old 50 cent. I couldn’t envisage him as a low life scumbag pimp until this role! I remember him losing all that weight a few years back to play a cancer victim, which shows great dedication but I have no idea what happened to the film. I shall IMDB it later

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      • Hah, yea, I remember the picture of him looking like hell. No idea about that movie.

        Umm, the Cage movie was the one where he gets out of prison and his daughter his kidnapped by his ex-partner in crime. I thought it was pretty good for what it aimed to do.

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      • Hah, yea, I remember the picture of him looking like hell. No idea about that movie.

        Umm, the Cage movie was the one where he gets out of prison and his daughter his kidnapped by his ex-partner in crime. I thought it was pretty good for what it aimed to do.

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  17. Nice review, Tyson, glad you liked this one as well, and I’m glad to have caught your tweet on it, otherwise I might’ve let this one slip past me. I gotta say, though, I was far more impressed with Hudgens than you were. I thought she was great here, and more than held her own. Still though, either way, we can agree that she certainly looked nice at least. 😉

    Oh yeah, and the movie itself was pretty damn good as well, lol. 😛

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    • Good to hear Chris, I’ll be sure to stop by and read your thoughts. Glad you liked it!

      As for Hudgens, she seems to have divided opinion. I found reviews where people hated her much more than I did (I felt she was fine, just not great) and others like yourself who loved her. I dont know, I just couldnt connect with her character, which I should of done in trying to sympathise what shes been through. Still, she did look good 🙂

      Cheers!

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  18. Saw this last week and have to say this was a very pleasant surprise. Seeing 50 Cent with that hair made me laugh though 😉

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  19. 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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  20. theipc

     /  November 20, 2013

    Buddy Boy – I just watched this and quite liked it.

    Is there a different version that you saw? The one I watched had very little blood and not one scene of torture… ??

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    • Been a while…… Quite forgettable but girl chained up in his room, then hunting and shooting point blank I guess was darker than I thought it would be. Sure there were a few bloody bits, nothing too bad but then again we watch more fucked up stuff than most 🙂

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