The frozen ground
Direction: Scott Walker
Actors: Nicholas Cage, John Cusack
A promising feature debut by New Zealand-born writer-director Scott Walker, this icy crime thriller is based on actual events. From the early 1970s until his conviction in the mid-1980s, a deceptively mild-mannered family man (Cusack) lured over 20 prostitutes, flew them into the Alaskan wilderness, then shot and buried them there. In other words, a serial killer was on the prowl again. A teenage pole-dancer (Vanessa Hudgens, impressive) was the only young woman to have escaped from his captivity.
Not surprisingly, the ineffectual local cops refused to take cognizance of her accusations. Worse still, the district attorney was hesitant to issue a warrant for the perpetrator without substantial evidence. Enter a dedicated state trooper (Cage) who’s determined to nab the psycho and bring him to justice. A riveting pas de deux ensues between Nicolas Cage and John Cusack.
The story sustains a blistering pace and there are enough thrills to propel viewers to the edge of the seat. Shot in the locations where the murders took place, cinematographer Patrick Murguia ably integrates the snowy vistas of a small town in Alaska with interiors shot in seedy bars and nightclubs.
A couple of early flashbacks depicting the victim’s torture are laboured but Walker ratchets up the tension during the latter half. All in all, The Frozen Ground is certainly watchable.