Based on the true story of Alaskan serial killer Robert Christian Hansen, and the police investigation to try and ensnare him before he can strike again. John Cusack plays Hansen, with Nicholas Cage as the lawman tasked with sowing the net of evidence against him, and Vanessa Hudgens appears as prostitute Cindy who narrowly survives becoming another homicide victim, but whose testimony is deemed questionable by the authorities due to her profession.
It’s a feature film debut from writer and director Scott Walker, and although it’s not as tense as it could be, it does deliver a successful amount of intrigue as to how they are actually going to manage to prove in a court of law that he is the man they are after (we the audience are left in little doubt as to his guilt from early on). Curiously, one of the worst moments of the film is during the end credits when we see photographs of the real life victims whilst what sounds like a cheery soft rock song plays, which comes across as somewhat disrespectful, though admittedly an understanding of the lyrics may have altered this perception, if it had actually been possible to make them out that is.
The film largely sticks to the real events, and it is at its least successful when deviating from them, certainly with the contrived relationship between Cage and Hudgens’ characters which borders on soap opera and partially necessitates the sidelined character of ‘the wife’, played by Radha Mitchell. Nevertheless, this is a good film for a greenhorn director, chillingly portraying an especially macabre series of killings. See the following documentary for details of the actual events (naturally, this will contain spoilers if you intend on seeing the film too).