The Frozen Ground

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The Frozen Ground
Two men look in a common direction while the movie's title runs through the middle of this poster
Poster for The Frozen Ground
Directed by Scott Walker
Produced by 50 Cent
Randall Emmett
George Furla
Mark Ordesky
Jane Fleming
Written by Scott Walker
Starring Nicolas Cage
John Cusack
Vanessa Hudgens
Music by Lorne Balfe[1]
Cinematography Patrick Murguia
Production
  company
Grindstone Entertainment Group
Cheetah Vision
Court Five
Emmett/Furla Films
Distributed by Lionsgate
Release date(s)
  • July 19, 2013 (2013-07-19) (United Kingdom)
  • August 23, 2013 (2013-08-23) (United States)
Running time 105 minutes[2]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $19.2 million[3]
Box office $5,496,951[4]

The Frozen Ground is a 2013 American thriller film written and directed by Scott Walker, his first feature film, based on the real-life 1980s Alaskan 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.[5] The film stars Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, Vanessa Hudgens, Katherine LaNasa, Radha Mitchell and 50 Cent. The film was released in theaters and on demand on August 23, 2013.[citation needed]

Plot[edit]

The film opens in an Anchorage motel room in 1983, where 17-year-old Cindy Paulson (Vanessa Hudgens) is handcuffed and screaming for help. She is rescued by an Anchorage Police Department patrol officer. He takes Cindy to the hospital, and her clothes are kept for a rape kit. At an APD station, she explains to detectives that she was abducted and repeatedly raped. Because she is a prostitute and lying about her age, the detectives disbelieve her story, refusing to even look into the man she named as her abductor, Robert Hansen (John Cusack). They claim Hansen is an upstanding member of society and a family man who owns his own restaurant, three people have alibied him, and there are too many conflicting details in Cindy's story to investigate him.

The APD patrol officer who rescued Cindy is outraged that the detectives refuse to pursue Hansen. He surreptitiously photocopies information about the case and sends it to the Alaska State Police. Meanwhile, state trooper Jack Halcombe (Nicolas Cage) has been called to investigate a female body that was found in the bush, half eaten by bears. The police connect the case to other missing girls, who have disappeared after going to what they thought were legitimate photo shoots. With the secret information from the APD officer, Halcombe connects the other cases to Cindy's and starts to put together a portrait of Hansen. Cindy details how Hansen kept her captive, and that she escaped from his car when he tried to transfer her to his bush plane.

Meanwhile in Anchorage, Debbie Peters gets picked up by a man in an RV for a photo shoot. Later, Hansen eats a quiet dinner at home. His wife and children are away, and Hansen relaxes in his trophy room, casually ignoring Debbie who is chained to a post. She has urinated on the floor, and as she cleans up the mess with a towel, Hansen's neighbor enters the house, trying to deliver a plate of food. Hansen warns Debbie not to scream and leaves the trophy room to greet his neighbor. Hansen then takes Debbie to the airport, where he orders her into his plane. After landing in a remote spot in the bush, Hansen frees Debbie, letting her run in a panic through the woods for a while before he shoots her with a .223 caliber rifle. He steals her necklace before finishing her off with a handgun.

Halcombe has a very difficult time assembling a case against Hansen, despite the mountain of evidence against him. Hansen also has a history of criminal and psychological problems. Because all of the evidence is circumstantial and Cindy is afraid of testifying, the district attorney refuses to issue a search warrant. Cindy keeps falling back into the world of stripping and prostitution, despite Halcombe's efforts to keep her safe. At a strip club, while she is trying to sell lap dances, she notices Hansen who is trolling for a new victim. Cindy barely escapes from him. The encounter makes Hansen nervous, and he hires Carl Galenski to find and kill Cindy. Carl approaches Cindy's erstwhile pimp Clate Johnson (50 Cent) and offers to forgive his sizable debt if Clate turns Cindy over to him.

Halcombe stakes out Hansen's house, causing Hansen to panic. Hansen gathers up evidence of his crimes, including the keepsakes from his victims, and flees with his son to the airport. He flies his plane to the bush and hides his keepsakes. Feeling that the chance to catch Hansen is slipping away, and with the victim count now at 17 girls, Halcombe forces the DA to issue a warrant. The search of Hansen's house yields no evidence, not even in his trophy room. Hansen agrees to be interrogated without a lawyer, but he is not yielding any new evidence.

Halcombe orders a second search of Hansen's house, which turns up a hidden cache of guns, including the .223 caliber rifle used in many of the murders. Halcombe uses a copy of a bracelet that one of the victims wore to bluff Hansen into thinking the police have found where he hid the evidence in the bush. The bracelet, combined with the sight of Cindy in the interrogation room, enrages Hansen to the point where he incriminates himself. The film ends with actual pictures of Hansen's victims.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The film was shot in 26 days, entirely in Alaska. Writer/director Scott Walker delayed shooting for five months so he could shoot the film on the cusp of fall into winter, so he could achieve a look and feel of the film starting with no snow and ending in the deep of winter. He has said he literally wanted the feel of the weather closing in and around the story, and freezing the case. As a result of shooting at this time of year, by the end of 26 days' filming there were 3 1/2 hours less daylight per day than when filming began.

Reception[edit]

The movie has received mixed reviews from critics. It currently holds a 59% rating on review site Rotten Tomatoes, based on 49 reviews, with a weighted average of 5.1/10. The site's consensus reads: "Though this by-the-numbers true procedural seems basic, The Frozen Ground presents a welcome return for Nicolas Cage in a solid performance".[6] Metacritic assigns the film an average score of 37 out of 100 based on 16 reviews from mainstream critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[7]

Audiences give the film more positive reviews. It currently holds a 4 Star rating on film streaming site Amazon Prime, based on 1,359 audience reviews, with a weighted average of 8/10.[8] Netflix audiences give the film 3.8 Stars based on 593,000 reviews, with a weighted average of 7.6/10.[9]

References[edit]

External links[edit]