For 12 years serial killer Robert Hanson went unnoticed by Alaskan authorities, and it wasn’t until 1983 when 17 year old Cindy Paulson escaped his clutches and told her story to the local authorities that he was finally caught. The Frozen Ground tells the story of Cindy’s escape and the subsequent hunt for proof that Robert was not everything that he seemed began.
The movie begins with Cindy Paulson’s (Vanessa Hudgens) escape from captivity. She describes her attacker to police, and they immediately identify him as Robert Hanson (Jonh Cusack), but they disregard it because not only is Robert meek with a humble occupation as a baker, but he also has a verifiable alibi for the evening in question. Detective Jack Halcombe (Nicholas Cage) doesn’t believe the alibi however, and even though he has very little support from his superiors, he believes Robert is guilty and seeks to find the proof he needs in order to get a warrant to search his place. He also believes Robert has killed before, and begins linking cold missing person cases together to try and prove it.
The Frozen Ground pulls you in from the very beginning and you find yourself not wanting to turn away until you see it through to the end. It was refreshing to see Nicholas Cage playing a more grounded and stronger role than he has in the last few years, and John Cusack does a great job playing the creepy killer. The character Cage plays is only based on the real life detective who caught Hanson however (his name is Glenn Flothe), and that is one of many things that were changed from the real life case. In typical Hollywood fashion there were added scenes to increase the tension of the movie. One that stands outs is a whole subplot of the cop taking care of his prime witness, and it was really unneeded since it never happened in the first place. Why Hollywood continually feels the need to add extra drama to a truly incredible and dramatic real life story in the first place is beyond any comprehension. Due to its low budget look and feel it’s not surprising that the movie has had only a very limited theatrical run, but it should do well when it hits DVD and BluRay next week.
The Frozen Ground gives you a good procedural look at capturing a serial killer, but it’s the sort of movie that doesn’t have much rewatch value after you’ve seen it once.