“ Genre: Horror / Suitable for 18 years and over / Director: Justin Kurzel / Actors: Daniel Henshall, Lucas Pittaway, Louise Harris, Craig Coyne ... / DVD released 2012-03-19 at Revolver Entertainment / Features of the DVD: PAL „
* Prices may differ from that shown
Genre - Crime
County - Australia
Certificate - 18R
Run Time - 118 minutes
Blockbusters - £3.00 per night
Amazon - £4.25 DVD (£10.0 Blue Ray)
So, Snowtown, based on the notorious true story of Australia's most prolific serial killer John Bunting (a name that sounds like he should be a mass murder!), killing eleven people with help from various accomplices over an 8 year period between 1992-1999. The title is a bit misleading as none of the murders actually happened in the costal town of Snowtown in Western Australia but eight of the eleven bodies were stored there in vats full of acid in a disused bank vault, where Bunting and his gang moved the bodies to try and destroy evidence as the cops closed in.
The blue collar suburb of Salisbury North in Adelaide is where most of the action took place and where the charismatic Bunting would target Australia's underclass misfits that wouldn't be missed, drug addicts, pedophiles, cross dressers or people they knew who may or may not have been one of those things. He and his disciples also defrauded up to $100,000 dollars of welfare money by pretending to be some of the dead men and women.
Daniel Henshall, who plays Bunting, was the only professional actor in the film as first time director Jim Kerzell's had little money for filming and so decided to cast local people from where the murders actually took place for authenticity, a Godforsaken place where the director also grew up and no doubt lived through the killings to inspire his first film. The controversy here was the South Australian Federal government helped fund the film and some of that money got back to Bunting in book and film royalties, as feeble as they may be.
* Daniel Henshall as John Bunting
* Lucas Pittaway as James Vlassakis
* Aaron Viergever as Robert Wagner
* David Walker as Mark Haydon
* Louise Harris as Elizabeth Harvey
* Keiran Schwerdt as Thomas Trevilyan
* Bob Adriaens as Gavin
* Frank Cwiertniak as Jeffrey
* Matthew Howard as Nicholas
* Marcus Howard as Alex
* Anthony Groves as Troy
* Richard Green as Barry
John Bunting (Daniel Henshall), a rather charismatic and get it done blue-collar guy, has just arrived in a poor Adelaide superb in the early 1990s, pokies, booze and TV the only things going on around here. He is here to help out a woman called Elizabeth Harvey (Louise Harris), who has called John through a gay friend to help sort out her boyfriend who is abusing her two sons, James (Lucas Pittaway) and Robert (Aaron Viergever). Bunting gets up a lynch mob and forces the guy out of the house, and the then city, and soon has his feet under the table for his reward, befriending the sons and family.
John hates pedophiles, druggies, crossdressers, schizophrenics, gays, you name it, just about anyone who he see's as not normal, soon indoctrinating the family and friends with that same hate, the idea to get up a watch team to clean the neighborhood of its degenerate scum. But working-class pedo paranoia soon turns into murder when Bunting and his close mate Mark Haydon (David Walker) decide to kill a local guy in the garage for masturbating whilst looking at young kids in the park, triggering more attacks as the duo find a tenuous reasons to kill again. He also indoctrinates James, getting him to shoot his dog in the kitchen to taste the kill, the kid soon reluctantly out prowling with Bunting and Haydon to find more targets, eventually persuading him to help kill his half-brother Troy (Anthony Groves), the films most harrowing scene among many. There seems no end to the depravity and torturing the victims the extra buzz for Bunting.
With a DVD dust cover machine-gunned with a horseshoe of rosettes and accolades I was looking forward to watching this movie. I was working in Australia at the time of the killings and always enjoy Aussie style phlegmatic filmmaking. But, whereas fellow Aussie serial killer film Wolf Creek has genuine visceral moments and harrowing story, Snowtown didn't have the same effect on me, perhaps because I'm not fully aware of the murder trials and couldn't feel sympathy for the underclass victims and the community they live in, maybe why the killings went on for so long for real.
Tenuous linking homosexuality to serial killers is nothing new, of course, and there is a suggestion Bunting may have had those feelings and this was his way of cleansing them. I can't think of a major serial killer who didn't seem to have those feelings so to target gay men. I suppose it's the ultimate way to deny you are gay. Even Raol Moat was revealed to have been in a previous gay relationship. When people are born a certain way they are not keen on they are far more likely to suffer a mental illness.
The film is too slow and repressive for me and the pounding soundtrack just stiffens things up more, no real psychological mystery implied to his killing spree other than sadistic hate and no one stopping him. The cops don't feature in the movie at all and you don't care for anyone in it. In fact you end up egging Bunting on to get killing it takes that long for the first murder. It's almost as if he was left to get on with it by the cops to clean up those degenerates. If he was killing pretty middle-class students he wouldn't have lasted long with gun tooting Aussie coppers. Trust me! I suppose that's why most serial killers target prostitutes and gay men who operate in those hidden subcultures.
Daniel Henshall doesn't convince as the killer either as his eyes are too soft and the real Bunting not bearded. The rest of the cast are a mix of am-drams and some do impress but the lack of paid actors in the movie does weaken the effect it has on you. It's emotionless and dank throughout and begins to drag because of that. The big problem here is the film needed the cops to be tracking him down to add tension and rhythm to the movie, the essential ingredient to all serial killer films, yet here it's just Bunting and his crew killing losers. I think most Aussies confronted with the Snowtown killings just said: 'so what', and didn't rent the film or care about the real life murders because of.
Imdb.com -6.6 /10.0 (6,234 votes)
Metacritc.com - 66% critic's approval rating
Rottentomatos.com - 87% critic's approval rating
Village Voice -'A dull thriller of ultra-bleak withholding'.
Empire -' An impressive but exceptionally disturbing feature debut from Australian director Justin Kurzel that pushes the new wave of Aussie crime films up a notch'.
This is London -'The result is a movie that can be admired in many respects from a distance but is progressively less emotionally engaging'.
Movie Talk - 'The grimy social realism and gurgling torture scenes place director Justin Kurzel's startling debut midway between Animal Kingdom and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer'.
The Mail on Sunday -'In spite of the inherently interesting subject matter and psychological dynamics explored, there is little in the way of suspense. I was intermittently bored throughout'.
The New Yorker - 'A movie that heaps so much dank atmosphere on its suburbanites, you can't help but sigh with relief when events turn to serial killing (finally?)
The Melbourne Age -'It has no particular observations about the mind of psychopaths that is worth the incredibly nasty feeling you get from sitting through its incredibly grim two hours'.
Adelaide Courier - 'Is it the Aussie Gummo (Ozploitation films), or a true-crime drama that takes itself way too seriously? Can it be both simultaneously?
= = = Special Feature = = =
Cast and crew talk about their very personal film
Quite a few (with commentary)
-Original Casting Footage-
We get to see the locals try out for the movie, literally plucked off the streets.
-The Snowtown Crimes-
A short documentary looks at the real murders
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