In 1983, Anchorage, Alaska really did seem like the last frontier. The picture that director Scott Walker paints is one of a city riddled with strip clubs, drugs and prostitution. Actually, that’s pretty much the same in every single city but hey, it sounded good as an intro. The Frozen Ground is based on the true story of serial killer Robert Hansen (John Cusack) who went on a killing spree in the 70s and early 80s. Meanwhile detective Jack Halcombe (Nicolas Cage) seems to be the only cop in town who cares about a series of missing persons reports and after a couple of dead girls have been dug up in the wilderness, he starts wondering if all the cases aren’t connected. Spoiler alert: they are. The investigation picks up speed when teenage hooker Cindy Paulson (Vanessa Hudgens) manages to escape from Hansen.
Walker isn’t trying to reinvent the serial killer thriller here but delivers a good movie nonetheless, largely thanks to the excellent, dialed down performances of both Cusack and Cage. Cusack has the quiet yet friendly neighbor role down pat while Cage shines as the cop who’s climbing up the walls because nobody believes his theory. Couple that to the fast, hand-held cinematography which gets mixed in with aerial shots of the forbidding Alaskan wilderness, lending the movie both a claustrophobic and vast feel, and you have yourself a fascinating yet subdued movie.