Robert Hansen may not have the kind of recall value as other serial killers do. But his handiwork is no less terrible. Currently serving 461 years in prison, Hansen would kidnap, repeatedly rape and then brutally shoot his victims (numbering 17 to 21) after releasing them in the wilds of Alaska in the early ’80s.
In this true story, a police officer responds to a distress call from a motel one night and finds an almost hysterical Cindy cowering in a bathroom, handcuffed and bleeding. She is questioned but DA Pat Clives (Kurt Fuller) later trashes the theory that Hansen’s a suspect.
Her story then reaches State Trooper Jack Halcombe (Nicolas Cage), whose gut instinct tells him Hansen intended Cindy to be his latest victim. Jack’s wife Allie (Mitchell) plays the stereotypical cop’s wife, who’s more bothered about whether her husband bought the groceries.
Following his instincts, Jack takes Cindy under his wing and along with Sgt. Lyle Haugsven (Norris) carefully connects the dots to get the killer. Jack has to protect Cindy no matter what but nabbing Hansen isn’t easy. He has the perfect alibi – the façade of an all-American life with a loving wife, kids and a flourishing bakery business.
Hudgens makes you empathize with her character. Her performance is surprisingly remarkable. The location (Alaska) lends a lot to the film’s tone. The close-ups are stark, yet emotive. Walker eschews creative licence in favour of keeping the true story in taut focus. Lorne Balfi’s score enhances the visuals. The Frozen Ground (Vung Bang Gia) does navigate through familiar serial killer-thriller checkpoints but the screenplay does pack in some clever tricks. Scott Walker does not sensationalize John Cusack’s Hansen and Cage thankfully reins in his histrionics.