Snowtown: Reviewed In Limerick
Snowtown’s not for the faint-hearted,
“Bodies In Barrels” and how it all started,
But where credit's due,
Is the director's debut,
Going places that should be uncharted.
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There has been some memorable shower deaths in movie history, like the chainsaw scene in DePalma’s Scarface or the string-assisted stabbing in Hitchcock’s Psycho. But the shower scene from Snowtown is easily the most disturbing I have seen – of any movie death for that matter.
Justin Kurzel’s debut film is not for the faint hearted. It is a savage look at the people involved with the infamous ‘Bodies in the Barrels’ murders that took place in South Australia during the late ‘90s.
For those that don’t know much about the story, I’m not going to give it away. I didn’t know much myself and found it more interesting to almost witness these events as they were happening, and all the time trying to understand why.
While the concept itself is chilling, the fact that it’s true makes it most sickening.
What saves it from being tasteless is the fact that it never glorifies these characters, and doesn’t try to lighten the subject with the typical Australian humour that weakens most of our movies. And while the film is chock-full of disturbing images, they aren’t just thrown in for mere shock value.
At its core, Snowtown is a character study – a pinhole view into the minds of these people as they transform into monsters. And while some of the more graphic scenes may seem completely isolated from the actual story, they do give you more insight into each character’s psyche and motives.
Daniel Henshall’s portrayal of serial killer John Bunting is scary yet absolutely incredible. Much like Hannibal Lecter or Patrick Bateman, he carries this charismatic charm that draws you to him even though you know he’s a complete psycho. However in saying that, as soon as you remember the character is in fact a real person, the performance is immediately overshadowed and you’re left with this sick feeling in your stomach for getting so involved with him.
In addition to Henshall, Snowtown showcases an incredible Australian cast who will hopefully receive international accolades for their roles.
Louise Harris is convincing as the struggling mother, and reminded me of so many nice, good looking girls during high school who just got mixed up with the wrong crowd. And while her character wasn’t as involved as, say, Jacki Weaver in Animal Kingdom, it was a strong supporting role that also added some much-needed human emotion.
Even more impressive was Lucas Pittaway as the messed-up kid, Jamie Vlassakis, who got caught up in the centre of it all. At first, Pittaway seems like an average casting choice, incapable of capturing the innocence required of his character. But that’s obviously not why he was chosen. It’s only when Jamie starts to get caught up in Bunting’s torturous games and eventually loses all sense of morality that Pittaway really shines. He projects this emotionless shell of a human that will stick with you for days – especially in that final scene.
While the concept of Snowtown is scary, it’s even heavier because of the fact that it’s based on true events. But the thing I find most disturbing after watching the film, is when I think about all the broken-down homes in Australia where this kind of thing isn’t exactly far from reality.
Snowtown is one of the best Australian films I have seen. But it's also one that I never want to see again.