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Frozen Ground, The


Stars: Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, Vanessa Hudgens, Kevin Dunn, Dean Norris, Radha Mitchell, 50 Cent, Jodie Lyn O'Keefe, Gia Mantegna, Brad William Henke

Director: Scott Walker

A good, solid, true-crime thriller, unusual in that it's set in snowbound Alaska. Rather dim lighting and handheld camerawork are only minor irritants here to an absorbing story.

The action opens on a terrified, handcuffed girl Cindy (Hudgens); a young prostitute, she proves to be the sole survivor of a grim series of killings involving probably dozens of women, over a period of 12 years.

We know from the start who the killer is: it's local baker Bob Hansen (Cusack), a seemingly devoted family man. Proving his guilt, though, as the Anchorage sergeant on the case, Jack Halcombe (Cage) finds, is quite another matter.

Despite the obvious threat to other girls, the authorities are not willing to move on the circumstantial evidence Halcombe has. And, when Cindy takes a local job as a lap dancer, Hansen spots her. Halcombe locks him up on charges he has yet to substantiate, but the killer has help. Placed in protective hospital custody after a narrow squeak, Cindy foolishly escapes, and it becomes a race between the police and the bad guys to reach her first.

Director Walker moves the story along nicely with the help of a pounding score, and allows few sideline issues to distract from the main story, Mitchell hardly getting a look in as Cage's wife. Cusack, continuing his run of villains, is effectively hateful as the man who takes his victims to his den, surrounded by the heads of animals he has hunted down. And Hudgens, far from her High School Musical days, couldn't be bettered as the junkie hooker who remains detective Cage's only hope of cracking the case.

David Quinlan

USA 2011. UK Distributor: Koch Media. Colour (unspecified).
108 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 14 Jul 2013