Monday, 14 November 2011


With its based-on-truth premise of a teenage boy from a broken family somewhere in the Australian underclass becoming involved with an enigmatic but vicious criminal, Snowtown immediately invites comparisons to Animal Kingdom, especially among people who've only seen two Australian movies this year (i.e. me). That would be reductive though: Snowtown is entirely its own film, and within minutes of it starting you'll have forgotten all about Guy Pearce's amazing moustache.
The enigmatic criminal this time is none other than Australia's most prolific serial killer, John "inappropriately jolly surname" Bunting, played here with terrifying serenity by Daniel Henshall, and Snowtown portrays him through the eyes of Jamie Vlassakis (newcomer Lucas Pittaway). Bunting's relationship with Vlassakis' mother initially seems like the answer to all the troubled teen's problems, but before long things take a turn for the eye-wateringly, stomach-churningly, toenail-removingly disturbing.
Brutal, bleak and raw, and shocking in the mundanity of its horrific events, Snowtown demands your attention and rewards you with an uncompromising look at the tragedy of a doomed, neglected community: there isn't a single shot of a police officer; neighbourhood watch consists of gathering round a kitchen table and being encouraged to dream up violent retribution towards gays and paedophiles, and a mother remains ambivalent to the effect that a clearly unstable man might be having on her children.

Meanwhile, the film's clouded sense of time and refusal to give an explanation for Bunting's crimes beyond his apparent hatred of child molestors and homosexuals (he was also after their welfare payments, but the film doesn't touch on that) make for an unpleasantly woozy viewing experience; a blurry, waking nightmare that stays with you long after the credits.

It's not a film to like or enjoy, but it is a film worth enduring. LOLs are non-existent and dog lovers will have almost as hard a time as they did with Tyrannosaur, but Snowtown does raise a lot of questions, and they're even harder to answer than the film is to watch.

It's not as good as Animal Kingdom though.

In other news: The production notes make for the world's worst flip book:

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