Out of the Blue Movie Review

Shooting-rampage psychopaths like Charles Whitman always seem to be an American phenomenon. But New Zealand, of all places, had its own run-in with mass murder in 1990 in a relatively little-known event in a tiny town called Aramoana.

The Aramoana Massacre, as it's known, ended 13 victims' lives, plus the murderer's, one David Gray, who went on a rage-fueled shooting spree that started with a neighbor who wandered through his yard and ended when police caught Gray after a nearly 24-hour manhunt as he hid in the homes and fields of the tiny town. It remains the worst murder spree in the country's history.

While "out of the blue" may not be an entirely perfect descriptor (Gray was, by all accounts, a dangerous lunatic with a gutted refrigerator full of automatic firearms, and someone should have known that something like this could have happened), the title does get to the sentiment of the townspeople when the dirty business goes down. "Is that a backfire?" they ask as the shots ring out. "It's too early for fireworks." Even as smoke fills the air from a house fire Gray sets, the locals choose to go check it out instead of calling for help. You get the feeling they're checking to see if there's a barbecue somewhere.

When the police response comes, it's not much better. The radio doesn't work. Some of the cops don't even have firearms. Access to the town is completely cut off, so people bleed to death in the street instead of being saved by ambulances.

Tragedy is all around in this movie, which sticks more closely to the reality of the events than virtually any other "based on actual events" film I've ever seen. Even the house where Gray is eventually discovered hiding out is modeled -- exactly -- after the real one. And yet Out of the Blue could have eschewed drama as it aimed for rote accuracy, but that's not the case here. With heartfelt performances and director Robert Sarkies' natural eye for the material and the natural, forbidding beauty of the location, Out of the Blue is compelling and totally watchable, an "art" movie in every sense of the word. This is not a feel-good movie by any stretch, but it gets amazing marks on almost every front and really needs to be seen.

The DVD includes numerous making-of featurettes and interviews, plus a commentary from Sarkies and author Bill O'Brien.

Cast & Crew

Director : Robert Sarkies

Producer : Steven O'Meagher, , Tim White

Starring : , Matthew Sunderland, Lois Lawn, Simon Ferry, Tandi Wright, Paul Glover, William Kircher


Out of the Blue Rating

" Extraordinary "

Rating: NR, 2006


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