Monday, July 21, 2014

The Snowtown Murders (2011)

Teenage Jamie's life is pretty crappy.  His single mother has a job where she often works long hours. So she has someone watch Jamie and his two younger brothers, and cook them dinner.  She and her four sons live in a run down neighborhood.  His mother's friend, who lives across the street, frequently offers to watch the kids. When he does, he takes pictures of them in their underwear, and since he's shown walking around naked, we can assume much more horrible things happen.  Even worse, his older brother like to beat Jamie up and sexually assault him.

When his mother begins to date John, things start looking up.  John cooks for the family, spends time with the boys, and protects Jamie and his younger brothers by driving away the child predator who lives across the street.  Jamie looks up to him and starts spending lots of time with him.  The bond is so great Jamie allows John to shave off his long hair so that he'll have the same haircut as John.

While John seems a charming man, in reality he is indoctrinating Jamie into a world that he keeps hidden from most others.  Through a series of neighborhood gatherings at their kitchen table, John puts together a few men that are willing to make the child predators in the area pay for their sins.  Jamie is slowly brought into this group. Although he is disturbed by it, his worship (and his fear) of John, along with Jamies own victimization make him keep John's secret.

This is a very disturbing drama based on the story of Australian serial killer John Bunting.  Even though I'm used to watching horror movies, there was one scene of torture and murder in a bathtub that was so intense that I had to look away.  While the crimes are truly shocking, most of the murders happen off screen.  So if you like movies with tons of blood or torture, you'll be disappointed.  Also it's more of a character study and story driven than your typical horror film.

Daniel Henshall, who plays John, does an incredible job.  He's very likable and charming. When his characters first appeared, I didn't even realize he was would be the serial killer.  When the character snaps, it's jarring. Henshall's facial expression goes from pleasant to rage in an instant, and it's freakin' scary.   I can't really say I enjoyed this film because it's too disturbing, but it was very effective.

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