The Frozen Ground


The Frozen Ground

img_fg_01

The Israeli version of this movie looks badass.

 

 

Travis
Welcome back to Vagrant Fox everyone. Tonight we watched “The Frozen Ground” in honor of Nic Cage’s birthday and we are joined by special guest Eli.

Tonight’s feature is a period piece thriller pitting the stalwart detective for the Alakan State Troopers Nic Cage against the Cagey Serial Killer John Cusack. Cue to Anchorage Alaska 1983. Our immediate thoughts…wouldn’t it be cool if this was an under the radar sequel to Let Me In?


Toad
Unlike Let Me In where there didn’t seem to be a particular reason to have the movie set in the early 80’s (other than to be like the original), this movie was based on a true story, so that’s their reasoning. To be fair, they had to embellish so much of this the movie might have been better served by just not pretending it was a true story and running with “cop chases down serial killer” as a movie set in modern day.

Mostly I’m just disappointed that there wasn’t a reference to Rubik’s Cubes, a Pacman machine, or anyone being satanic because they were playing Dungeons and Dragons.

Eli
To be fair, it is quite possible that the movie was meant to be set in modern times but when they arrived in Anchorage they discovered that the place is stuck 30 years in the past. So they just decided to slap 1983 on the screen in order to make any sense for the audience.

Shown here: A brand new Anchorage, Alaska Police Cruiser, circa 2013

Shown here: A brand new Anchorage, Alaska Police Cruiser, circa 2013

 

 

Travis
Scene one has Vanessa Hudgens of the Disney / I dated Justin Bieber fame beat up and in dangling handcuffs; quite possibly a behind the scenes shoot of her returning from a date with the Biebs. Alas no, she has escaped from… something and since this is a movie about Alaska, it is statistically a killer she is running from. In her interview with the cops, who are in full on victim blaming mode she’s smoking… don’t see that much in movies anymore.

Toad
What’s worse is, having been a smoker for 20 years of my life, seeing people smoke in movies who clearly aren’t actual smokers. They light a cigarette and put it in their mouth, maybe even puff, but to a real smoker it’s obvious when someone is faking it. Does Hollywood not realize this?

For the worst “non-smoker smoking a cigarette” watch the creepy CIA guy in Under Siege pretend he’s smoking a cigarette during the war room meeting. It’s absolutely terrible.

Vanessa Hudgens is smoking. Literally. I mean she has a cigarette and everything.

Vanessa Hudgens is smoking. Literally. I mean she has a cigarette and everything.

 

 

Travis
Now we cut to Nic Cage’s house and his 4’ish year old daughter runs out to hug him, he picks the daughter up for all of one second and seems to say “Holy shit she’s heavy” and quickly puts her down. You’re getting old my man.

Eli
Could have also been the mother becoming terrified that Nic Cage is touching her child. The director yells into a loudspeaker, “Nic we talked about this. Step away from the child.”

Travis
Nic (Our heroic detective) tells another cop “You sound just like my wife!” Straight out of the cop dialog handbook and then later when mentioning the killer he is investigating, “He’s nocturnal… probably works nights”. Good insight Nic, this must be why there are so many serial killers… they never get caught.

Toad
Nic is clearly at the top of his game for police work. This whole scene feels very comfortable, like a warm bath, because it’s three minutes of exposition that could have been cut and pasted out of a thousand previous movies or tv shows.

We’re getting lines like, “This wasn’t his first time.” And, “He’s done this before, he’ll do it again.”

I’ve heard all this dialog before, in every serial killer movie/cop show ever and I’ll just never get tired of it. It’s like Shakespeare.

I’m getting too old for this shit.

I’m getting too old for this shit.

 

 

Travis
Nic is two weeks from retirement… this whole movie might be a cop themed mad libs. The retirement thing comes up a few times but I’m never clear on either where he is going, or why he is leaving. Other than perhaps the state is full of Serial Killers.

Eli
These opening scenes also establish a trend that happens throughout this movie. Unnecessary characters. The film is loaded with extra characters that say one line but hover around in scene after scene. All the unnecessary cops could have been consolidated into Nic’s partner Hank (editor’s note: The character is actually Lyle Haugsven, played by Dean Norris.. but since it’s Hank from Breaking Bad, he’ll be Hank here)

In our last episode of Breaking Bad...

In our last episode of Baking Bad…

 

 

Of course this trend doesn’t stop with just the cops. There is Nic’s unnecessary family, Bob Hansen’s unnecessary family, the unnecessary hitman (what was that even about?), the unnecessary pimp, and I can’t believe I am saying this but all the unnecessary strippers.

It was like the director had a lot of favors he had to pay out so he put a bunch of random people in his movie and gave them each a line or 2.

Nicolas Cage seen here with the guy who does the Director’s dry cleaning.

Nicolas Cage seen here with the guy who does the Director’s dry cleaning.

 

 

Travis
And all of these girls are being lured to their deaths by the promise of a $300 photoshoot. Exactly how many model talent agents are looking for models in Anchorage, Alaska?

Toad
I’m going to say the actual answer to this is 0, both in reality and in the movie. Because here’s the thing, 1 in 3 people who live in Alaska are killers. That’s just a fact that Hollywood has taught me.

Between this movie, “Insomnia”, “Thirty Days of Night”, and “The Edge” I’m pretty convinced that Alaska is just a dangerous place to live. The only non-murder movie I can think of from Alaska, is “Mystery, Alaska” where Russel Crowe teaches kids to play hockey. And really, hockey is just the kid’s version of murder.

Eli
I think if you live in Anchorage, Alaska your only hope is to either find a model talent agency or be hunted for sport. Either way at least you no longer live in Anchorage, Alaska. I can say that because I don’t think anyone from Alaska will ever read this.

Travis
It’s entirely possible that 1 in 3 people in Alaska are killers because the population of non-killers have all been hunted already. It’s possible that in another 75 years alaska will be 100% killers and crime will drop to 0% because there won’t be any victims left.

Ok, introducing John Cusack as our killer Bob Hansen by taking us to his Bakery. Here we get to learn that John is a Baker and a “Respected member of the community”, is married and works next to a Dollar store.

Toad
I like that there’s like 5 signs on the front of the dollar store that say things like “Hair Brushes only 1$!” and “School Supplies only 1$!” and then a sign in the middle that says, “Everything is only 1$!”

Cause really, you only need that one sign. The “Everything” sign covers it all.

Eli
So was his bakery in the back of the dollar store? I was never clear on that point.

Note that apparently in Alaska a respected member of the community is someone who has been arrested at least 3 times before for rape, kidnapping and soliciting prostitution. Alaskan standards are way lower than the other 49 states.

Toad
I had the same thought. Everyone seems to love him (except his wife, who is terrified of him), his neighbor keeps inviting him over, and even brings him food later cause he’s worried his wife is out of town and he won’t eat, but when the police start looking into him he just seems like a terrible human being.

So much so that I was convinced the DA was going to end up being his brother or at least in on the serial killings because cops just keep going to the DA with, “Here’s a three pound file of all the hundreds of horrible things he’s done, he’s threatened women, been arrested multiple times in multiple states, and a rape victim just positively ID’d him” and the DA was like, “It’s not enough! I’m not gonna charge him! We need more!”

Travis
I’m not 100% on this part, but I think many of his earlier transgressions happened before he came to Alaska. Yes, according to Murderpedia (which is apparently a thing) he was up to no good back home in Idaho before moving to Alaska.

I mean, come on. Do I look like a killer?

I mean, come on. Do I look like a killer?

 

 

Now that we know what the killer is up to lets see how Nic handles the investigation. A large pile of files is dropped on his desk so he turns to the other officer in the room. “You go through these files. I’m going to go troll for prostitutes”. That’s fine police work there Nic. Also, he didn’t say that last part… but it’s always implied.

Nic gets a run down on the red light district from a Vice Cop. That vice guy sounds like a real cop…. he’s not, that is Michael McGrady but he plays a ton of cops so I guess the attitude just sticks.

Toad
Let’s see. He played “policeman” in “Volcano”, a detective in “Diagnosis: Murder”, a Sheriff in “The X-Files”, a Sheriff in “CSI”, a Sheriff in “Criminal Minds”, a Detective in “Las Vegas”, Officer Colson in “Ring of Death”, a detective in “CSI: Miami”, a detective in “Southland”, and now a Vice Detective in “Frozen Ground”. Also, he later played a police chief in “Mob City”, so he’s getting promoted.

This may all stem back from when he appeared in the 1983 Disney classic “Hocus Pocus” as “Cop”.

Eli
This guy might have had the most important one minute of continuous dialogue in the entire film. I don’t know because I couldn’t understand a thing he said. It was like listening to an auctioneer that had been punched in the mouth several times. I think there was something about whores and mooses.

Travis
Nic finally gets to interview Vanessa Hudgens about her story. Which going back to the first scene, Nic only knows of this girl because a beat cop didn’t like the attitude the City detective had during the interview, so he sent her case file to the State office which is one of only two times actual police work was accomplished in this movie, and neither time was by Nic Cage.

So, wait, you’re saying because I’m a prostitute it’s legal to do pretty much anything to me? God I hate Alaska.

So, wait, you’re saying because I’m a prostitute it’s legal to do pretty much anything to me? God I hate Alaska.

 

 

 

Back to the story, unlike our model victims Vanessa was only offered 200 dollars for a blowjob in 1983.. that’s 468 in today’s dollar…. I’m pretty sure you could get a bj for less than 500 in Alaska.. or even not Alaska. This was before she was captured. My favorite part of the interview was the Bearskin rug. It was brought up multiple times as if this was the revelation, that the killer enjoyed the feel of boning on a bearskin rug, the director wanted us to take that away from the story.

Toad
I like that you looked up the conversion rate for Blow Jobs in 1983. That’s an underutilized economic datapoint. Who cares that milk used to be .83 cents and now it’s 2.99, how much was a handy in 1983? That’s important info.

Travis
Lets see this Rug, I mean Killer in action. Down in the basement we have our next victim lined up but they are interrupted by the next door neighbor letting himself in to invite John over for dinner. Badass serial killer, has victim in basement… doesn’t lock his front door.

Toad
There seems to be all kinds of fail in this plan, and I can’t for the life of me figure out how the real guy got away with this for so long. His wife called to say she was going out of town for a couple of days and he kidnaps a hooker and chains her up in his basement. This is why I could never be this guy. My wife would totally come home a day early without calling and I’d be screwed.

Also, they don’t have cell phones! Think about that. It would be waaaay to easy for him to miss a call from his wife saying she was coming home early, because he was driving around picking up hookers, or was between the house and the bakery when she called. He doesn’t have a magic metal box in his pocket that she can send him a text on to tell him she’s coming. This is seriously dangerous work he’s doing just assuming she’s going to be gone exactly as long as she said she would.

And it’s clear this isn’t the first time he’s done this. But then, to be fair, it seems like the police have arrested him half a dozen times for various things and he always either gets away or spends three months in jail on a six year sentence (sentencing guidelines in Alaska seem way fucked up). So maybe he just doesn’t care.

Also, there’s a scene later where he’s having dinner with his family and his wife makes some comment about going somewhere for Thanksgiving and he gets angry and she gets this look like “Oh, shit, I poked the bear” like she’s terrified of him. It made me wonder if she knew what he was doing but was just too scared to do anything about it, but then it never came up again. In fact I think that might have been the only scene the wife was actually in.

Eli
Maybe it is common for people living in Alaska to chain hookers up in their rec room.

Travis
The only point of that scene is to show a close up of the Bear Skin rug. The director only made this movie for that close-up, the rest was filler.

Vanessa, being unable to stay put is back out on the street looking confused but not all is lost as she now meets the whore with a heart of gold who takes her to a titty bar and gives her cognac. We could all use friends like this.

Toad
The whore was all, “I’ve been where you are and I didn’t take the help, so you’re gonna take the help.” I was waiting for Vanessa to be all, “Really? Did you escape from a serial killer, too?”

And then her version of help is not just cognac, but “here, take a hit off this crack pipe. It’ll totally make you feel better about taking all your clothes off in a bar full of people who have a 30% chance of being a murderer.”

I’m pretty sure Vanessa turned down the crack pipe twice before she finally convinced her to take a hit. She is the worst friend ever.

I don’t have a joke here, I just wanted to include this picture.

I don’t have a joke here, I just wanted to include this picture.

 

 

Travis
“Larvae infestation”… the one bit of information I took away for the completely pointless autopsy scene we were just shown.

Back to the whores, aka more interesting parts. Heart of Gold is telling Vanessa about her first time stripping” I was so nervous I peed on this cowboy in the front row”… we were all waiting for her to say ‘He paid me extra”… bit fail that it didn’t happen. After calming her down with this charming story, she then offers her a hit of a crack pipe because dammit, we’re going to hit all of these cliches.

Stripping is all about Confidence. And Crack.

Stripping is all about Confidence. And Crack.

 

Vanessa to Heart of Gold: You remind me of my mom. Was your mom a whore crack-pusher too?

Vanessa finally gets the courage, or the crack motivation to hop on stage but before we get the goods she spies her Pimp. Oh Hey it’s 50 cent. Somewhat random (or not as we learn he was a producer) hey director; do we have any roles for a black guy? We need a pimp. Perfect, cast it.

Toad
Not only is 50 cent a producer on this movie, and the only black guy in the movie, I’m pretty well convinced he was the only black guy in Alaska at the time.

I’m not even a pimp. These hoes just saw a black guy and started giving me money.

I’m not even a pimp. These hoes just saw a black guy and started giving me money.

 

 

Eli
They put this scene in just so they would have an excuse not to have Vanessa take her top off. She is dancing and about to show off her sweater puppies and BAM, here comes 50 cent to ruin everything.

Travis
Strip club shenanigans aside, back to the 1 in 3 characters that is a serial killer. Victim: I won’t tell anyone I swear! Oh, that is nice. I guess I’ll let you go.

Toad
The last desperate plea of anyone who’s about to be murdered. “I swear, I won’t tell anybody!” Has that ever worked?

Eli
I am pretty sure he shot her feet off…execution style.

Well, she promised not to say anything so I let her go. Wait a minute...

Well, she promised not to say anything so I let her go. Wait a minute…

 

 

Travis
The scene had an odd flow, he takes her to the tree and cuffs her to it. Not a minute later he uncuffs her so she can run, he then slowly follows and when she is a ways ahead shoots her in the back with a rifle. What was the point of chaining her up for one minute, I have to feel there was more to this scene that didn’t make it in the final release.

Imagine Jason Vorhees kill count if he had access to a rifle.

Imagine Jason Vorhees kill count if he had access to a rifle.

 

 

Nic finally gets a hold of Vanessa for another interview, at a roller rink because you know… 80’s. I interview all of my coked out whore witnesses at roller rinks too.

Enough of this Killer talk. Up for some Ms Pacman?

Enough of this Killer talk. Up for some Ms Pacman?

 

 

 

 

Toad
It was the 80’s, of course they were at a roller rink. I’m still disappointed there wasn’t a Pac-Man machine in there anywhere.

This is one of those scenes, too, that you could have ripped out of the movie entirely and it wouldn’t have changed anything. Nic Cage and Vanessa Hudgens had a conversation and…nothing happened.

Eli
We did learn that Nic Cage’s sister died in a car wreck. Because that relates directly to being raped, hunted and murdered by a serial killer. Also classic Nic Cage concerned face.

Travis
Not buying his concern for her well being, or his ability to protect her, Vanessa decides to get on a plane going somewhere people aren’t Serial killers or Nic Cage. But wielding the bad ass power vested to him by the story, Nic gets her (and everyone else’s) flight delayed so he can talk to her again.

“(Vanessa) I can’t make you stay…“ says the man that just stopped a plane to make her stay.

Toad
Yeah, that was great. He got the plane stopped, got her into a room, then basically said, “Look I can’t make you stay. But you’re staying.”

Travis
Since Vanessa missed her flight, Nic decides to bring her to his house for “Protection” but his wife, played by Radha Mitchell (of Pitch Black fame) is having none of that “whore all up in my house” nonsense. Vanessa overhears the argument and in a non too subtle mommy and daddy are fighting kind of way so she runs away to the only safe place in alaska… her pimp’s house.

Toad
She never gives a clear description of what’s going on with her parents, but she implies that she was abused. I’m not sure, but I think this might be one of the best uses of subtlety I’ve ever seen in a screenplay. She manages to make it clear she’s not going home for some reason, it’s not just a “my parents are lame” kind of thing, but she never clearly articulates what the actual problem is either. That felt kind of real.

Eli
Wonderful use of making the audience mad at the wife for not wanting the 17 year old crack smoking prostitute living with them.

Travis
But now she’s at a pimp’s house, so if she wants to stay she gots to pay. Out to the street with you woman. And with horrible decision making skills she chooses the worst street corner to work in Alaska… there was literally one car in the entire area; and a Moose. And we all know Moose only carry credit cards.

Striking out on the street, Vanessa heads back to the club. Serial killer John who has been searching the area for her (far more effectively than the cops, it seems) spies her on the street but then loses her in the clubs.

Pictured: The Best detective work in the movie. Also, horrible shot framing.

Pictured: The Best detective work in the movie. Also, horrible shot framing.

 

 

Vanessa in her wandering apparently went to the mens room and he looked in the women’s restroom. I don’t know if it was her plan to use the mens room, but since she went in to snort coke off the back of a toilet in a seedy club I don’t think her plan went too far past “Get High”.

Eli
Not sure if that was coke. Her reaction to it made it seem more like it might have been Drano.

Travis
Not realizing there are two rooms she could hide in, John then hires the bouncer at a club to track down the one that got away. That’s like serial killer take out. Also, the guy might not have been a bouncer. This guys occupation is unclear other than big and scary.

Eli
He offered to do the job for 10. 10 what? Took us several scenes before we concluded that he was doing way too much work for just 10 dollars.

Hi, could I get a victim delivered directly to my room? Thanks.

Hi, could I get a victim delivered directly to my room? Thanks.

 

 

Travis
Learning that Vanessa “belongs” to 50 cent the bouncer then then pulls Pimp 50 out into the snow and threatens him but offers to trade Vanessa to clear 50’s debts. Exactly what debts owed to whom is never mentioned, but to hell with details right?

Toad
He dragged him outside in the cold, shoved a gun in his face, made some reference to how much money he owed…somebody. Then told him if he brought the girl they’d be even.

If you were the pimp wouldn’t that whole thing feel a bit off to you? Wait, we’re going to be even if I bring you this girl? How badly do you want her?

Travis
Having absolutely no evidence Nic brings John in for questioning. John: “My lawyer told me never to talk to you”, so let me talk to you. Did I tell you about the time I picked up a hooker but we couldn’t agree on the price. Or the other time I picked up a hooker…. mostly, just the hookers. Have you met my wife?

Toad
This is the second time this situation has occurred so it’s well on its way to becoming a motif. First there was the “I’ve stopped a plane to make you stay, but I can’t make you stay” and now there’s the “My lawyer told me never to talk to you. Sit there while I proceed to tell you things for twenty minutes.”

Travis
John continues: I just wanted head… but not from my wife… because i respect her… also, she’s terrible at it.

Toad
That was bizarrely great. I love that he’s justified getting blowjobs from hookers because he respects his wife too much to ask her to do it. But he’s like, “That’s totally understandable right? I mean sometimes a guy needs a blow job. But I would never ask my wife to do it. Right, guys? Guys?”

Eli
Well it does sort of make sense. He loves his wife, who is obviously terrified of him, and only gets blow jobs from hookers, who are not people like you or I. Afterwards he feels so much shame his only response is to hunt and kill them. I was actually surprised that they are not stuffed and mounted on the walls of his rec room.

Travis
Seriously John, stop talking: “…. so I followed her home… “ said nobody with good intentions ever… lets add, “I didn’t intend to rape her”…. nobody mentioned rape here… just you John.

Eli
Never tell the cops how you never intended to rape anyone. It will just end badly for you.

Travis
Nic’s turn at brillance: “Do you have the guts to be honest with me?” Wait, your strategy is to double dog dare him into a confession? This was your plan?

Did you order the Code Red?!

Did you order the Code Red?!

 

 

Eli
The best scene in the movie. Cusack is in his cell talking to his lawyer. The lawyer in a not so subtle way tells him that his best defense would be if the star witness ends up dead *wink wink*. That some good lawyerin’.

Toad
“I’m not saying you should kill the witness. But if the witness was dead this would be a lot easier for you.” *wink wink*

Travis
Unable to hold John they have to release him and now Nic is in a scramble to find Vanessa. They can’t get in touch: Lets file this under “Scenes that can only happen before cell phones”

Toad
This is sometimes the excuse movie makers use to set a movie in the 80’s. There’s a lot of screenplays out there where someone reads it and goes, “This scene at the end where the bad guy is chasing this woman down, why doesn’t she just text her boyfriend or a cop or her friend with the shotgun…” And then your only options are A.) Set the movie in the 80’s, before cell phones, or B.) The dreaded “I can’t get a signal…

Travis
Pimp 50 has Vanessa and is going to “square some debts” by taking her to the maybe Bouncer / Definitely scary guy with a gun. 50 has a car phone. No money in the police budget for cell phones, but pimps can afford it.

Toad
Not only does Pimp 50 have a cell phone, so does the bouncer. These are the two highest paid men in Alaska, I have no doubt.

Here’s the other thing that bothered me about this. Remember earlier when Giant Bouncer told 50 “bring me the girl and we’re even”? He didn’t say anything about bringing 50 any money. He just said, “You owe us money, bring the girl and we’ll be square.” But 50 pulls a gun on him and tells Vanessa to go get the money out of the car.

What money? This feels like during a rewrite of the screenplay someone changed some dialog without realizing it invalidated some dialog somewhere else in the script.

It’s unclear if this was shot for the movie or if this is just stock footage of 50 Cent trading Vanessa Hudgens for cash.

It’s unclear if this was shot for the movie or if this is just stock footage of 50 Cent trading Vanessa Hudgens for cash.

 

 

 

 

Travis
Here is a perfect example of a pointless scene. 50 takes Vanessa out to the woods to give to the Bouncer. Instead of doing so, he pulls a gun on the Bouncer and tells Vanessa to “Grab the Money”. What money? Also, having none of this Vanessa just hops in the Bouncer’s car and takes off. 50 is for some reason surprised the crack whore he was going to trade to her death would abandon him in the snow stops paying attention to the bouncer who pulls a gun and shoots him. The Bouncer, now in 50’s car, chases Vanessa to an apartment complex / brothel where there is a suspenseful and exciting (is what the script said) chase where our daring hero Nic rescue’s Vanessa from the Bouncer who escapes into the night.

Absolutely nothing in the story changes with the above scene. Also why does 50 care about the girl. Hand her over and square your debts, that has to be worth more than whatever she brings in. Especially since she made literally zero dollar the whole movie, her only claim to profitability was when she was hired for a $200 blow job. It was $20 wasn’t it? Don’t embellish lady.

With the “Did you order the Code Red” strategy Nic’s next attempt to bring John to justice is to order a full on search warrant of all property, again on no evidence I might add. His justification… “Remember when you have a guy drowning, you pour on more water”.

Toad
I’m not even sure what this means. What is the situation here? Are you standing over a guy in a pool drowning and you have like a pitcher of water? Does that even help? And why are you drowning a guy?

This line was done much better in Moneyball when Brad Pitt tells his players, “When your opponent is making a mistake, don’t stop him”.

Eli
More excellent lawyerin’ right here. Nic Cage is tossing around wild accusations, the lawyer weakly says the interview is over, but Nic Cage just keeps on going. Cusack finally has a “you can’t handle the truth” moment but actually never confesses to anything really. Everyone walks away like they nailed him. Scene.

In reality all of that gets tossed out and Cusack the serial killer walks free. Possible to hunt and kill the 17 year old crack smoking prostitute stripper.

End credits are wildly inappropriate. They show pictures of all the victims while a college rock bro song plays. The song is called When My Memory Finds You. It seems to be a song about remembering someone that they love which seems okay until you take the context of the movie into consideration. The lyrics of the song are a little stalkerish and could easily be the serial killer remembering his victims. When you want to memorialize victims do it over classical musics with no lyrics or at least with a song specially written for them. Not because the budget allowed you to purchase the rights to a second rate song hack.

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Travis
My good is that all things considered, this wasn’t a bad film. Stack it up next to Kill the Irishman which is also “Based on Real Events” this is much more coherent and stays on topic.

Toad
My good is that I felt like there were times when they could have gone over the top, but the screenwriter let us leave some of what was happening to our imagination. There were parts of the movie where it worked well (Like Vanessa’s backstory).

Eli
The good for me was the understated and controlled performance of Nic Cage. He stayed within character (even if said character was sort of a bland generic cop) without having to delve off the deep end like so many of his performances have done lately.

Travis
For a bad I would have to again stack it up to Kill the Irishman and saw that while the former has far too much material for the movie the tried to show, The Frozen Ground invents far too much material to fill out what is an otherwise straightforward story. And they don’t do it particularly well.

Toad
The bad for me, I’m going to say, is the District Attorney, who for no reason just seems to keep stonewalling everything the cops are trying to do. If this was a Law & Order episode McCoy would have had that damn warrant in their hands five minutes into the movie. But here, this guy just seems to keep finding excuses for not doing his damn job. If I was the actual District Attorney in Anchorage in 1983 I’d be suing these guys for libel, because they have convinced me that he is either incompetent or corrupt. Possibly both.

Eli
The tone of the movie just didn’t work. It seemed to be trying to go for a tense, dreary, moody tone but ended up with a depressing or cheap feel to it. Tone of an environment can really add a great deal to a movie’s quality and can in fact become a character all its own. Seven is an excellent example of how the environment of a city can be a character all on its own. I got the feeling that the director wanted the environment of Alaska to be that sort of character for Frozen Ground but it just ended up being a generic dirty town.

Travis
My Ugly goes to 50 Cent and The Bouncer. These characters and their arcs could be removed from the movie without changing the story one bit. Since this movie is “Based on Real Events” and these characters weren’t in those real events perhaps their non-impact was intentional.

Toad
My Ugly goes to the screenplay for all the characters. Yes the screenwriter got both my Good and my Ugly. But as Eli pointed out before, there are a hundred characters in this movie that had 12 single lines of dialog, and one of the things they teach you early in screenwriting classes is to combine all those characters into fewer characters to get the job done. I realize this is based on real events, but there’s so much embellished BS in the movie I don’t feel like they couldn’t have solved that problem.

Eli
When making a movie about a serial killer they probably should be the focal point of the movie. Even if you do not even depict the killer in the film the movie should revolve around them and their actions. Frozen Ground seemed to treat the serial killer as almost a backdrop to tell a story about a young woman living a dangerous and unhappy life, who just happens to have escaped from the clutches of a serial killer.

Toad
So that’s the Frozen Ground. We watched it so you don’t have to. Also, don’t move to Alaska. S’dangerous.