Hudgens is shaping up to be a most gifted young actress. The days of High School Musical are long in the past now as she takes on the role of prostitute Cindy Paulsen, the only surviving victim of serial killer Robert Hansen (Cusack). Only she can provide the necessary evidence to put the psycho away, but dogged cop Jack Halcombe (Cage) has great trouble in keeping her away from her nasty pimp (50 Cent) and her dependency on drugs. Hudgens is sincere and expressive, investing her all in this characterisation of a teenager on the wrong side of the tracks, by turns feisty and afraid. Its a gift of a role for her and she seizes it full on.
Based on a true story, The Frozen Ground follows her tale as well as that of Halcombe in trying to nail the killer in the wintry and unwelcoming terrain of Alaska. A cat and mouse situation develops as the determined 'tec, fully convinced that Hansen is the murderer, goes all out to find the evidence against him. Hansen though is a trusted member of the community, a married man with two kids, his dark underside never revealed to anyone but his numerous victims.
Cusack is miscast as the villain. He can do the straightlaced everyday guy act with ease but when turning into a vicious and sadistic killer he is never that convincing. There's no feeling of terror or menace when he's breathing down young girls' necks. He's never once unsettling. It's a good try though but it robs the movie of horror. Cage is commendably stalwart though as the single-minded cop on his trail. Sturdy and convincing, he does everything that's required of him, keeping the proceedings going with reliable persistence. There are logic loopholes and the narrative is never that believable but all in all, this is is a solid and watchable thriller that delivers on its own compact terms. Not bad at all.