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Times of India
Cindy Paulson (Hudgens) manages a lucky escape from the clutches of serial killer Robert Hansen (Cusack) and becomes key witness in the case to convict him.
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 (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 facade 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 film does navigate through familiar serial killer-thriller checkpoints but the screenplay does pack in some clever tricks. Scott Walker does not sensationalize Cusack's Hansen and Cage thankfully reins in his histrionics.
This film hasn't received a lot of press or a wide distribution. Sadly, that's probably due to Nic Cage, which is a shame. First, he's very subdued and focused (there's no wild-man Nicholas Cage in this movie). In fact, he plays a deeply decent, dedicated Alaska State Trooper who becomes convinced that a serial killer (also very well played by a creepy John Cusack) is stalking women in Anchorage. 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 Hudgins 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.