Nicholas Cage is a legend. He deliberately stars in bad movies and hams his way to glory to make them entertaining on some bizarre B-film level. So it’s a pity when he takes a break and doles out a decent performance in a terrible film.
The serial killer thriller The Frozen Ground is so clunky a guy who has seen less than five movies in his life could come up with a better script. It is so clichéd and derivative that directly ripping off some other thrillers would still make for a comparatively fresher film. Reminiscent of Chris Nolan’s Insomnia but sans the stellar acting, photography and direction, the film is set in an Alaskan town and is allegedly based on a true story of a guy who killed 20 young women in the 80’s. Cage stars as a cop assigned to catch the killer who is played by a one note, completely unthreatening John Cusack.
To say the film scrapes the bottom of the barrel would be giving it too much credit. Director Scott Walker makes absolutely no effort to make any part of the film interesting or new. The procedural style follows the plot points and tropes of nearly every single serial killer film made in Hollywood. The killer is a mild mannered man with a dark secret. He has a basement. He kidnaps and tortures women. These are scenes shown a zillion times in cinema and it is strange that the filmmakers seem to believe that bathing the audience in a stinky mud of clichés would entertain them. It’s not that we’re perverts and want different or new twisted scenes of torture, but the film neither gets into the mind of the mad man nor keeps us guessing the identity of the killer. There is nothing exciting about watching a film where we know who the killer is and what he would do next.
There’s also Vanessa Hudgens who almost bursts a vein or two in her effort to get out of her Disney persona and play an ‘adult’ character. Her role of a prostitute is so terribly realized and acted it makes you appreciate the stereotypical serial killer victim Ashley Judd character from the 90’s. Perhaps had Cage let fly, hammed to the hilt, stole bicycles, swallowed some bees, worn a bear costume and punched women the film could’ve salvaged some unintentional off-kilter entertainment. As for John Cusack, he needs to stand with a boombox under the window of those who saw this film and apologize.
(First published in MiD Day)