Saturday, March 9, 2013


From the years of 1992-1999, John Bunting killed a lot of people in Australia. He did so under the guise of policing his community and clearing it of pedophiles and other predators. This movie tells the story of a young man named Jamie whose mother enters a relationship with John. It's moody, if not slow, and the atmosphere is thick with trepidation and unease.

At first, John seems like a good influence on Jamie, his brothers, and their mother. The boys have recently been sexually assaulted by the neighbor across the street, and John shows up to make things right by driving the pervert out of the neighborhood. The fact that he does so by hacking up kangaroos and throwing them onto the neighbor's porch is a little vicious and unusual, but you can't really argue with the results. Not only that, he's incredibly personable and likable. He's funny and kind to the boys and seems intent on helping them stick up for themselves.

Jamie's got a tough row to hoe before John comes into his life. His eldest brother bullies him to the point of rape. The scene in which that happens is icy cold in its matter-of-fact depiction of the act. In fact, Jamie spends the vast majority of his screen time looking shell-shocked. It's not always involving, but I can't say that it doesn't make sense. He starts off being abused from all sides and even the man who seems like he's going to be helping him the most ends up being a sociopath who will kill anyone on a whim instead of an anti-pedo crusader.

This is a pretty long movie that isn't afraid to take its time in creating a mood. Maybe I'm just ignorantly comparing it to any other Australian film I've seen recently, but it reminded me of Animal Kingdom in terms of pacing. I think things could have been tightened up a bit. Also, it got pretty confusing after a while in terms of who was getting killed and why. It seemed as though scenes were shown out of sequence, even. Either that or it wasn't made clear enough for my liking who was whom and why things were happening to them.

If you read a little about Bunting, the movie starts to make a lot more sense. In fact, as psychotic as he is portrayed, he was apparently even worse in real life. I mean, the guy ate at least one of his victims, and he played a Live album as a ritual when he killed people. Now that's just disgusting.

Snowtown is a slow burn of a film that adeptly shows the cancerous effect a serial killer had on a young man and his family. I didn't find it to be particularly compelling, but it certainly wasn't bad. If it were a little more focused and some of the supporting cast as talented as the actor who portrayed John, this could have been great.

Tomorrow:Cannibal Holocaust

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