DIRECTOR: Damien Power
WRITER: Damien Power
When newly engaged couple Sam and Ian decide to head out of the city and go to the bush for a relaxing camping trip. They expect to be celebrating New Years with some serenity. When they arrive, they notice another campsite by the lake. As the days go on, they discover that something terrible has happened when a baby boy is found on the path. The couple will soon realise that they will need to fight to survive when two local hunters return to the crime scene.
Being Australian, it always makes me so proud when I see our country produce and release a new horror film. We are so known for doing these dark suburban dramas and thrillers that we rarely see us produce a genre movie. Over the last decade, we have been delivering some really great stuff, and in 2017, I think we may have even just delivered two of the years best genre efforts. With five months of the year left, I can safely say that I see Hounds Of Love and Killing Ground making my end of year list. We continue to outdo ourselves.
Going into Killing Ground, I was very aware of the hype. I had heard a lot of positive festival feedback about this movie. I didn't want to get myself worked up, but I seem to always have a soft spot for homegrown horror films. After recently sitting through and loving Hounds Of Love. I was extremely excited to see if we could produce not one but two excellent horror films this year and after watching Killing Ground, I can confirm that we are two for two this year.
Running at a short but very taut hour and a half, Killing Ground is a movie that never lets the audience come up for a proper breather. The story introduces us to all of our characters over two separate timelines. Telling the stories in a non-linear fashion, we are introduced to our couple, the family of four and our two villains. These stories are intercut and play out which eventually come colliding in a moment that is both chilling and horrifying. I'm not easily uncomfortable, but the scene involves a small baby boy that will have audiences on the edge of their seats.
I think the film is very successful in introducing us to characters that we actually care about and want to see survive this ordeal. The six people who come into contact with these two evil and violent criminals are all well-rounded and written characters that I felt incredibly sorry for them as they are put through some horrendous things. While never graphic, it's implied that they are raped, and we see most of them get tortured. There is also one scene involving a crying baby boy that will have some people who don't like violence against children, walking away from this movie.
From the very first moments that the movie began, this had an incredibly eerie vibe. Nothing ever seemed right, and for that, I was on the edge of my seat for a lot of the story. While the movie does take a while to get to the violence and gore, the build-up is extremely unsettling. This is one of the most intense films that I think I've seen all year. I was pleasantly surprised that this movie didn't contain even one jump scare and was able to maintain this intensity all based on only tension and suspense.
My biggest problem that I had with Killing Ground is the ending. Writing this review only hours after watching the movie with the ending still fresh in my mind. It has me really torn on the film. It's not an ending that gives us closure or a resolution. It's an ending that leaves us with questions, and I'm still thinking about what it means. It's not an ending that kills the overall film, but it leaves us questioning the relationship between our couple. Have we just witnessed their end? It's all left up in the air. I think it will be something that divides audiences.
The acting in the film is solid. It took me a few minutes to really gel with our leading actress Harriet Dyer but once she gets going and into survival mode, I was loving her character. Ian Meadows as her boyfriend has the most complicated arc in the film. His character also plays heavily into the final few seconds of the movie and leaves a lot in doubt. Maya Strange who I love from the Aussie comedy Garage Days has one heart-wrenching performance, and I loved her in this flick, and Tiarnie Coupland probably has the toughest role in the film. Her character is a teenage girl and is subjected to some stuff that while implied, it's heartbreaking. I think the way the characters are just disposed of is incredibly difficult to watch.
Lastly, our two villains are played by Aaron Pedersen and Aaron Glenane. Both actors deliver two evil and terrifying performances. Both actors commit to their roles and do some pretty deplorable things on screen. They give their all to the roles and do them serious justice that I actually hated these two characters. You love to hate them, and I wanted to see them die horribly and I think this movie does a decent enough job of subverting our expectations on what we have come to expect from the villains. Just when you think one is going to be the eviler of the two, one outdoes the other in their despicable acts.
DEATH TOLL: 7
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A woman and a teenage girl are raped by two men.
- Someone is shot in the eye with a rifle.
- A woman is shot in the shoulder and head.
- A teenage girl is shot in the head.
- A man is shot in the chest and head.
- A man has his wrist sliced open with a swiss army knife.
- A man throws a baby against the ground.
- Someone is shot in the shoulder.
- Someone is bludgeoned to death with a rock.
- A police officer is shot in the head.
- A police officer is shot in the heart.
Killing Ground is another winning horror film from the land down under. The movie is a taut and intense little film about the horrors of camping. The movie is an incredible edge of your seat thrill ride from beginning to end. It contains some pretty dark and brutal acts of violence towards women and children that may upset some people and the acting from all involved is fantastic. The only issues that I still have with the film is that ending which I think will divide audiences. Maybe in time and with a couple of repeated viewings, that will lessen. As a harrowing piece of cinema, this needs to be seen by all horror fans.