Killing Ground

"Good"

Killing Ground Review


From Australia, this dark and edgy thriller is skilfully made by writer-director Damien Power to drag the audience right into the middle of the horror. It may be a bit simplistic thematically, with an ultimate message that's feels almost bullying, but while it lasts it's a properly intense freak-out, merging two timelines to keep us chilled to the bone.

It's set in a dense forest somewhere in the Outback, where Ian and Sam (Ian Meadows and Harriet Dyer) have gone for a weekend camping trip to celebrate Ian's new job as a doctor. Pitching their tent alongside a picturesque lake, they notice a campsite at the other end of the shoreline that seems to be eerily empty. Meanwhile, we watch the residents of that other tent earlier in the day: Rob and Margaret (Julian Garner and Maya Stange) with a cheeky young toddler and sullen teen daughter Em (Tiarnie Coupland). Each of these groups of campers has an encounter with two local thugs, German and Chook (Aaron Pedersen and Aaron Glenane), who are in the area hunting wild pigs and are just a bit trigger-happy.

Filmmaker Power crosscuts between these two timelines in clever ways that keep the tension high while quietly filling in details to make the overall story come into focus. This allows him to gently build the suspense, deepening the characters just enough so that we care what happens to them, and adding some complexities that make everyone easy to identify with. Even the aggressors aren't as simplistic as they could have been. Pedersen makes German intriguingly reticent, annoyed by Chook's sadistic tendencies but aware that he has the same urges. Oddly, the dynamic between Ian and Sam is a bit more troubling, as the script simplistically ridicules Ian's innate fear without trying to understand it.

Thankfully, Power cuts away from the most horrific moments as these events spiral far out of control. It's still very grisly and increasingly tense as desperation kicks in on various levels for each character. But while it's gripping and scary, there's the nagging feeling that this is little more than gratuitous nastiness. Like Wolf Creek, the film seems to exist merely to prey on our fears of encountering crazy people in isolated areas. Without any meaningful subtext, it seems more than a little pointless, contrived simply to put vulnerable people in harm's way and watch them squirm. Which kind of leaves the final moments feeling like a cheap shot.



Facts and Figures

Genre: Horror/Suspense

Production compaines: Mushroom Pictures, Hypergiant Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Damien Power

Producer: Lisa Shaunessy, Joe Weatherstone

Starring: Aaron Pedersen as German, Aaron Glenane as Chook, Harriet Dyer as Sam, Ian Meadows as Ian, as Margaret, Tiarnie Coupland as Em, Julian Garner as Rob, as Chris

Contactmusic


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