Movie Review : Snow Town

November 13, 2011

Sixteen-year-old Jamie lives with his mother, Elizabeth, and two younger brothers, Alex and Nicholas, in a housing trust home in Adelaide’s northern suburbs. Their home is but one of many sun-starved houses crammed together to cater for a disenfranchised society.

Jamie longs for an escape from the violence and hopelessness that surrounds him and his salvation arrives in the form of John, a charismatic man who unexpectedly comes to his aid.

As John spends more and more time with Jamie’s family, Elizabeth and her boys begin to experience a stability and sense of family that they have never known.

John moves from the role of Jamie’s protector to that of a mentor, indoctrinating Jamie into his world, a world brimming with bigotry, righteousness and malice.

Like a son mimicking his father, Jamie soon begins to take on some of John’s traits and beliefs as he spends more and more time with him and his select group of friends.

The protection and guidance that John presents to Jamie is initially welcomed however as events occur around him, including the disappearance of several people, Jamie begins to harbour deep suspicions about John and his motivations.

When the truth is finally revealed to Jamie his hopes of happiness are threatened by both his loyalty for, and fear of, his father-figure John Bunting, Australia’s most notorious serial killer.

To be honest the subject matter is not something to be very proud of as an Australian, especially if you’re from SA. But today’s review is not about that, it’s about how Australian director Justin Kurzel, takes the story of the famed “Body in Barrels” murders and turn it into an epic feature that will blow your mind away.

Before we go into our review though, please be warned that it is not a psychologically happy film, nor will it have a pretty ending like a typical Disney movie would. During the 2 hour long epic, you might find yourself pretty detached from the film. Which is totally intended by director Kurzel, referring to it as a kind of “banal brutality”. Intended or not, it does make the film a little hard to follow at times.

Having said that, the entire cast, especially James Vlasskis (played by Lucas Pittaway), does an amazing job of luring you into their world. Making you believe every word they say, every handshake they make and every killing they attempt. I must say their performance is worthy of an oscar. The location they chose to shoot in along with the props and wardrobe are perfectly applied to give the movie its realness. I take my hats off to the crew for doing such a great job.

The movie does start off a little slow but it picks up as soon as John Bunting (played by Daniel Henshall) comes onto screen. Personally I felt that Snow Town didn’t have as strong an anchor as I would’ve liked it too and was at times aimless. But the killing scenes were brutal and gory as sh**. On top of that, I definitely appreciate director Kurzel’s subtle nuances throughout the film (sometimes just a little too much for my liking though).

I’ve had friends watch this film and walk out of it ¼ of the way through and some just absolutely loved it, but whatever the verdict may be, Justin Kurzel and the cast have definitely done an outstanding job in re-interpreting the psycho mass murderer Buntings story. If you’re in the mood for a psycho film, Snow Town will definitely kick you into gear and keep you there for as long as it lasts.

NOTE: This might be a brilliant movie, but that does not mean we are in acceptance or endorsement of the real life events. In fact all of the murder, rape, animal cruelty and an abiding sense of hopelessness is something we wish not happen and are not for it.

Fat Kids Rating 7.5/10

Words by Benny Teh

View Snow Town Trailer Below:

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