There was recently an interview with Nicolas Cage when he was asked about the number of direct to video movies he has made in recent years and he responded by saying he thought it was ridiculous that direct to movies were looked at as being less than theatrical movies. He says he just makes movies, period. I have to agree with Cage on this point; I have seen countless excellent films that never saw a big screen. And Cage has been on a role with some solid films in the last while like Stolen, Trespass and Seeking Justice. His latest film, The Frozen Ground is based on a true story of one of Alaska’s most prolific serial killers.
Alaskan state trooper Jack Holcombe (Cage) has been on the trail of a killer abducting young girls, torturing and sexually assaulting them, then killing them. There hasn’t been any evidence but one victim, Cyndy Paulsen (Vanessa Hudgens) escaped to tell the tale. Paulsen is a prostitute that no one seems to believe, but Holcombe has only one suspect in mind, Robert Hansen (John Cusack). The problem is that Hansen is a pillar of the community and is beyond suspicion to everyone but Holcombe. Now Hansen is determined to shut Paulsen up so Holcombe must protect her and find a tangible link to Hansen that can put him away forever.
The Frozen Ground might just be the best of Cage’s recent efforts. An intimate little police thriller, it reminded me of other great serial killer films like Citizen X or Zodiac if not quite as stylish. Cage is unusually restrained here but it reminded me of how equally great he can be when not freaking out. I love a good cage freak out but he really is an excellent actor and can pull off a wide variety of roles. Cusack, who is on a bit of a role playing baddies lately with this and The Paperboy, is suitably creepy and also quite good. I like when he breaks out of his own stereotype once in a while. The other standout here is Vanessa Hudgens as Hansen’s escaped victim who also happens to be a prostitute and junkie. Hudgens is very convincing in the role and was a pleasant surprise. There are a couple of typical thriller moments when characters make bad decisions but not enough to ruin what is an engaging and entertaining thriller.
The Blu-ray from VVS is very nice indeed. For a very dark movie, the transfer handles all the darkness very well with solid black levels and natural colors. Detail and clarity are excellent and the soundtrack is subtle but haunting. Another solid thriller from cage, The Frozen Ground is well worth the time to check out.
Available now on Blu-ray and DVD.