Παρασκευή, 15 Νοεμβρίου 2013

Movie Review: The Frozen Ground(2013)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2005374/?ref_=nv_sr_1



We may be far from the genre's heyday, still it is clear to me that "The Frozen Ground" diffuses the whiff of a grim and dreary catatonia, so frequently encountered in the masterpieces tagged under the serial killer onomatopoeia.

Nicolas Cage stars as the morally integral state trooper
Jack Halcombe, whose character is inspired by the real-life detective Glenn Flothe. He is in pursuit of the serial killer Robert Hansen, who, from 1971 to 1983, abducted, raped and murdered at least 17 young women in Alaska.

Novice director Scott Walker clings closely to every stereotypical inuendo, sprinkled on the genre's hot recipe. A foggy kaleidoscope of aerial shots, hovering over a typical alaskan custard pie, to underline the killer's reclusive mindset, while enhancing the viewer's desperation over the anticipated horror.
It's night, it's cold and it's hopeless.

Beneath the north american white carpet, lie the horribly mutilated bodies, aligned in a pattern, that perfectly matches with the area where cold blooded Hansen(John Cusack) hunts deers. What remains disorderly scattered though, are the traces of three parallel stories, written on the snow. The stories of the good(Halcombe), the bad(Hansen) and... the beautiful. Prostitute Cindy Paulson(Vanessa Hudgens), the escapee last victim of Hansen's, is the liaison between the two men. But, just when you feel like building a momentum via the protagonists' interaction, the film fails to deliver.

As preposterous as it may sound, in films like this, you expect to detect a certain connection, linked to the main characters' modus vivendi. A sociopath's psyche has everything to do with society. Prostitution is a delicacy, delivered by the society to honourable and well respected men. Hansen fits the bill. He is a delicacy provider to the society himself, being a baker in profession. Where is the flaw in this connection? The film never attempts to establish one. I don't know if it is by loyalty to the story's pattern(based on true events) or a complete failure to dig deep in the core of human demeanor, by both the scriptwriter and director. 

What is it that turns Hansen into an icy murderer? Is it sexual incompetence? Why does he have to kill?
For the love of sport perhaps(dragging his victims in the wilderness, setting them free and shooting them from a distance, while they are trying to escape)?

Could it be just guilt, due to moral restrictions, inflicted by the small town's sterile environment? You get to kill, out of fear of a terrible ethical retribution or even worse... eternal damnation! By killing the person you committed the sin with, you are killing the sin itself.

None of the above is mentioned here, not in the slightest hint of insinuation. All we get to hear is that mister Hansen has cut off certain sexual favors from the umbilical cord of his connection to the woman he is married with. "I love my wife and i can't ask her for anything like that", he states. Are we to witness some sort of inverted morality that can mold a crime's motif, while being exfoliated by any unecessary fragments of guilt? Can our society be that tolerant? This is the only real dilemma that the film raises. Still, not managing to trace a path of serious debate around it. And it's not because of the heavy alaskan winter that erases any print form the snow.

Overall, the film does not offer a single glimpse inside the three main characters' state of being. I have the impression that it tries to re-establish Cage's career and re-invent Cusack's one. Not successfully, in either case. I remember Cage, mincing around the ominous plight of underground pornography in "8mm", back in 1999. You could see a man, marked by destiny in the most appalling way. He was younger, more tenacious but also more vulnerable to any twist of fate, lurking around every dark corner of the snuff folklore. You were feeling for the man and his agonies, you were seeking a redemption for his sake and on his behalf and above all, you trusted him because... you always like someone who tries to do things right after establishing a connection between his dark side and the evil he is fighting against.

Jack Halcombe is not like that. He is too close to retirement to generate any kind of empathy and too far from the problem's roots, to understand what is feeding it. He is not even there, when all the breakthroughs occur. He seems too perfect to be trusted by the average people. That's why Cindy never trusts him, nor she can establish any sort of connection to the man. 

The problem with this film is that the director tried to adjust its formula to the turnaround in the careers of his protagonists. Cage needed a bad reason to sanctify his cause. Cusack needed a good pretext to demonise his deeds. They both failed, because in a serial killer movie, you don't love the good guy for being immaculate nor you hate the bad one, for being luciferian. You just expect the hidden side in their face off, to reflect in the two sides of your own psyche.

I give this film 2 stars out of 5.
You are welcome to provide your own opinion and/or feedback
Next week for a new movie review