Review: The Frozen Ground

Posted: August 29, 2013 in Review, Scary Stuff
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I first heard about this film from my boss at work. Her fiancé apparently was a cop in Alaska back in the eighties, and a certain case he’d worked was being made into a movie. It was the story of Robert Hanson, a serial killer who had taken several girls up to the woods in his plane and then killed them. The girls he took were prostitutes, whom he raped and murdered, and then took trophies from. He’s now serving 461 years plus life for his crimes.

Did I mention that the movie stars John Cusack as the killer, Vanessa Hudgens as the prostitute who escapes him and later identifies him, and Nicholas Cage as the cop who takes him down? If I haven’t, than I think I just did.

This movie is only available through select theaters and on-demand, but it could be good enough for a national release. Watching it, I find it hard to tell what’s Hollywood BS to spice up the story and what’s actually happened. It’s done so convincingly. You see actual emotions, characters who feel so real to the point that you forget you’re watching actors. Hudgens especially pulls off the role of a prostitute with a hard life very well. As she says at one point to Cage’s character, “I’ve had things happen to me…things no little girl should have happen to them.” For many girls on the street, that’s how they start out. Bad things happen to them, and it warps them, putting them into a role they don’t want but can’t shake. And the whole instinct of survival at any cost drives a lot of their actions, which is why Hudgens’ character does a lot of what she does, even if it defies logic sometimes.

At least, the logic of you or me.

The Frozen Ground also gains points for its dark and realistic portrayal of the police process back in the eighties. It’s a tough job, with sometimes very few leads and several roadblocks to getting justice. You can feel the frustration mounting as at certain points, these cops find themselves blocked in trying to take down Hansen. It’s like Law & Order, but only deeper and with even less Hollywood crap.

My few complaints is that many of the characters are undeveloped. We don’t really get a chance to understand Hansen or Cage’s character, and many of the other characters, especially characters on the force, don’t get their names used once in the movie (so I could not tell which character was my boss’s fiancé, sadly). It’s a cop drama, so not a lot of room to get into character development when a killer’s out on the loose, but still, could you spend a few hundred dollars filming some scenes that show us what motivates some of the other characters in this story? The only other characters whose heads I can get into is the pimp character played by 50 Cent, and that’s such a stereotype, it’s not even funny. Because hey, the black pimp has been used so much it’s a cliché.

Anyway, I was going to give The Frozen Ground a 4.3 out of 5, but Hudgens’ performance and the realism of the movie elevate it to a 4.8. If you get a chance, do go check out the movie. And stick around after the closing shots. You’ll see the captions “This film is dedicated to all the victims, known and unknown”, followed by photos of some of the known victims of Hansen.

And one more thing before I wrap this review up. The next time you see a girl on the streets turning tricks or you hear some pundit make some comment about prostitution on TV or the radio, remember that these girls aren’t doing what they’re doing, with little or no legal protection, health insurance, retirement plan, or guarantee of safety, just for the fun of it or the money. Many are forced into it for a variety of reasons. The least you can actually do is show these girls some compassion, and remember they are real women too.

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