THE FROZEN GROUND
BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
NOVEMBER 3, 2013
As a mystery thriller, “The Frozen Ground” relies a little too heavily on standard conventions, trading new and dynamic tension for based-on-a real-story authenticity. Pitting Nicolas Cage against a serial killer, played by John Cusack, should be a slam dunk. But with sub-par, barely-there performances, it feels like both men are reprising roles that worked better elsewhere. Cage’s better part was as a detective in “8MM.” Hell, even his detective role in “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” was more substantial. And Cusack as the creep in “The Paperboy” was miles better than his acting here. Their respective performances in “The Frozen Ground,” however, feel phoned-in. The turn that does raise an eyebrow is that of Vanessa Hudgens. She hones in on her previous performance in “Spring Breakers,” yet still does a lot with her character. She has set herself so far away from her “High School Musical” days that you can hardly recognize her behind the smeared mascara and prostitute attire. The concept alone sells this film perfectly, a true story from Alaska about a serial killer that blends into the community and continues to get away with it. However, the execution feels off. What reads on paper as an epic thriller becomes precisely a straight-to-DVD thriller with some average performances and nothing quite memorable after the credits roll.
August 23, 2013
(for violent content, sexuality/nudity, language and drug use)