Monday, November 7, 2011

AFI FEST 2011: "Snowtown"

SNOWTOWN (2011) **** 120mins. D: Justin Kurzel. Lucas Pittaway, Daniel Henshall, Louise Harris.

The film opens with an act of pedophilia. A disgusting moment for sure but that pales in comparison to what will follow.

A recently arrived neighbor, John Bunting, comes to the aid of the family and helps coerce the predator to leave town. The family finds a father figure in John and one of the sons, Jamie, begins to spend more and more time with him. John is at once charming, nurturing and loving. However, his true colors are revealed in one of the film's most memorable scenes. John Bunting is a serial killer.

The film is unflinching and at times intense. The sure-handed direction by Kurzel and the solid performances by his leads, for some this is their first film, convey the horror and desperation of the situation.

Daniel Henshall is downright scary as Bunting. On the surface he comes off as a nice guy but underneath he's intimidating and sadistic. Lucas Pittaway is haunting and tragic as Jaime. You really feel how trapped and lost he is once he's forced to get involved with Bunting's "work". What really stands out about their performances is that they've never acted before.

It's a worth entry into the serial killer genre that has the distinction of not only being very well done but being based on true events, which is more terrifying and disturbing to think about.

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