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The Frozen Ground (2013)



Average Rating: 5.1/10
Reviews Counted: 50
Fresh: 29 | Rotten: 21

Though this by-the-numbers true procedural seems basic, The Frozen Ground presents a welcome return for Nicolas Cage in a solid performance.


Average Rating: 4.3/10
Critic Reviews: 8
Fresh: 3 | Rotten: 5

Though this by-the-numbers true procedural seems basic, The Frozen Ground presents a welcome return for Nicolas Cage in a solid performance.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 14,315

My Rating

Movie Info

THE FROZEN GROUND is inspired by the incredible true story that follows Alaskan State Trooper Jack Halcombe (Nicolas Cage) as he sets out to end the murderous rampage of Robert Hansen (John Cusack), a serial killer who has gone unnoticed for 13 years. As the bodies of street girls start to pile up in Anchorage, fear strikes a chord with the public. Risking his life, Halcombe goes on a personal manhunt to find the killer before the next body surfaces. When a seventeen year old escapee (Vanessa


Mystery & Suspense, Drama

Oct 1, 2013

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August 20, 2013:
Video Interview: Cast of Frozen Ground
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All Critics (50) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (29) | Rotten (21)

A taut procedural with atmospheric location work that traces Cage's clock-racing efforts to find evidence against Cusack ...

August 23, 2013 Full Review Source: New York Post
New York Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The movie's only fresh element is the wintry setting, which shrouds everything in a mood of weary fatalism. Otherwise, it's the same old, same old, efficiently discharged and utterly disposable.

August 22, 2013 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The movie's late-night cable feel and skeevy salaciousness grinds everything to a snowy slush.

August 22, 2013 Full Review Source: New York Daily News
New York Daily News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Although writer-director Scott Walker seems committed to not overly exploiting his lurid subject matter, the movie is just too dreary, disjointed and generically creepy to be persuasive.

August 22, 2013 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A vague and forgettable crime thriller that would have benefited from more character development or at least a grounding of the narrative in one central protagonist.

August 21, 2013 Full Review Source: New York Observer
New York Observer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The Frozen Ground hits the familiar notes.

August 20, 2013 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's all around safe and plain, simple and to the point, and all very, very by-the-numbers.

August 10, 2014 Full Review Source: Film School Rejects
Film School Rejects

The Frozen Ground covers familiar territory but benefits from authentically seamy scene setting amid the bars and strip-joints where the killer found his prey, and from solid performances by its leads, all of whom are acting against type.

February 1, 2014 Full Review Source: Movie Talk
Movie Talk

The Frozen Ground is trying its best to act as a genuine tribute to the victims of a horrible crime. Unfortunately it falls short... Though still functioning as a solid genre piece, the chasm between intention and execution is embarrassingly apparent.

December 10, 2013 Full Review Source: Quickflix

The Frozen Ground isn't innovative, but it is a well-paced and engaging thriller that has the added appeal of a truth-based narrative.

October 1, 2013 Full Review Source: Reno Gazette-Journal

In a rote cat-and-mouse cop-and-serial-killer story, Vanessa Hudgens' 'victim' is far more compelling than either cop Nicolas Cage or killer John Cusack.

September 30, 2013 Full Review Source: Flick Filosopher
Flick Filosopher

The scenes where Cage grills Cusack are the best thing about this very average thriller.

September 30, 2013 Full Review Source: Movie Chambers
Movie Chambers

Choppy and chilling, it's destined for a quick burial in the icy tundra.

September 2, 2013 Full Review Source: SSG Syndicate
SSG Syndicate

A chilling thriller with first-rate performances by John Cusack, Nicolas Cage and Vanessa Hudgens.

August 29, 2013 Full Review Source: ReelTalk Movie Reviews
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

Are we mourning the loss of these women or delighting in their downfall, relishing their abuse? Cheap thrills destroy whatever pure intentions launched Ground, chaining the effort to the most banal of B-movie pursuits.

August 28, 2013 Full Review Source:

"The Frozen Ground" trucks in cliche, as most serial killer and police procedural films do, but the strength of the acting (from the leads down to people with only one or two lines) helps ground the film.

August 27, 2013 Full Review Source:

Impressive debut from New Zealand-born Scott Walker is told with style and panache. Strong performances, fevered pacing and immersive location lensing are big pluses pushing this from "B" pic to A-.

August 26, 2013 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

We've seen a lot of serial killer movies but this intriguing true story is well-acted and involving enough to be worth a shot.

August 26, 2013 Full Review Source: Movieline

A true crime period piece that somewhat interestingly eschews a lot of investigatory grind in favor of moral certitude and throwback, cat-and-mouse tension.

August 23, 2013 Full Review Source: Shared Darkness
Shared Darkness

Unfortunately, with a confusing script pocked with plot holes, The Frozen Ground misses an opportunity to create a lasting testament to their memories.

August 23, 2013 Full Review Source: Paste Magazine
Paste Magazine

Not bad at all. Nicolas Cage gives his best performance in years.

August 23, 2013 Full Review Source: JoBlo's Movie Emporium
JoBlo's Movie Emporium

Unfocused, flitting back and forth from separate Cage, Cusack, and Hudgens arcs without forming them into one vision.

August 22, 2013 Full Review Source:

Audience Reviews for The Frozen Ground

The Frozen Ground is based on actual events and the manhunt for Alaskan serial killer Robert Hansen in the 1980s. It is the reuniting of Nicolas Cage and John Cusack after 1997's Con Air that people really seem to be interested in though, that and the fact that Vanessa Hudgens takes most of her clothes, like it's a new thing. I like a good manhunt thriller and while The Frozen Ground was adequate, it really lacked the interesting detective work that goes into solving a case such as this. In fact, the policing is so non-existent it's a wonder that Hansen was caught at all. How about giving us more actual events rather than stuff based on actual events, maybe then we'll believe it! A generous 3/5.
April 24, 2014

Super Reviewer

This little indie thriller is based on the real life story about an Alaskan State Trooper's quest to apprehend serial killer Robert Hansen whose malicious ways managed to stay largely off the map for about 13 years. Part of it had to do with the nature of the crimes, and a lot of it had to do with the fact that, at least to the public, Hansen came off as a very upstanding, decent, mild mannered guy. The last guy you'd really expect to be a monster.

The film adds fiction by changing some of the names, and that sort of thing, but I don't think that matters much. In the end, what's important is that this is a gripping, entertaining thriller that makes the most of mood, tone, and atmosphere over loads of gore. That, and, while you already basically know where it's going, it's still a pretty suspenseful little affair.

Nicolas Cage is the main trooper on the case, dropping basically all of the shtick he's become known for, and giving a solid, straightforward turn that proves he really is a talented guy. Vanessa Hudgens is a troubled stripper who initially escapes Hansen's clutches and helps out with the case, and then there's John Cusack as Hansen. He's great. It's unlike any of his previous performances, and he really sells it. He's not overt or campy, or over the top. He plays it straight, and as a result, is quite chilling. There's also appearances by 50 Cent, Radha Mitchell, and Dean Norris among others, and, while I could have used more of them, especially Norris (and that is in general, and not just here), they're fine. Well, 50 is the weakest, but that shouldn't be too surprising.

The film uses the Alaskan locales to great effect, and the cinematography is wonderful. This is a stark, haunting land, and the grisly story is a perfect match for such climes.

I enjoyed this quite a bit, but will admit that the story and script could have been stronger. They're decent enough, but the main thing that really makes this film work is the acting. Yeah, even Hudgens is good. I would compare this in a lot of ways to Zodiac, though this one isn't nearly the masterpiece that one is. I may be a bit easy on this one, but you know, I don't care. I think this worked quite well, despite a few flaws, so keep an open mind and give this a look.
March 31, 2014
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

The hunter becomes the hunted.

Good thriller! The film downplays the gore, while showing the seedy and soul-crushing underworld where Cusack finds his victims. A very nice bonus is that almost all of the police officers shown in the film are hard-working people who want to catch this killer, but know they have to work within the law to ensure he doesn't escape them in the courts. Vanessa Hudgens turns in a very nice performance as one victim who escaped and was instrumental in identifying the killer. The director does a fine job of capturing the ghostly silences of the frozen north, where so many of the man's victims were buried. All in all, a fine, atmospheric film that is both thrilling and sad. Well worth your time.

Alaskan trooper, Jack Holcombe believes that Robert Hansen is a serial killer who abducts young girls then tortures and sexually assaults them then kills them. But he doesn't have enough evidence to justify a search warrant of Hansen's premises. He knows one of his victims, Cyndy Paulsen somehow survived so he tries to find her and asks her to help him. But when he finds her, she's a junkie and has trust issues. So Holcombe has to try and earn her trust so that she could help him. But Hansen is still doing it.
October 25, 2013
Manu Gino

Super Reviewer

Very badly fictionalized. The truth may have needed adjustments to make it gripping; however, while it adjusts the truth, it fails to make it interesting enough.
October 1, 2013

Super Reviewer

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