- Director:Patrick Hughes
- Cast:Steve Bisley, Claire Van Der Boom, Ryan Kwanten, Tommy Lewis
- Release Date:November 22, 2010
- Running time:97 minutes
- Film Worth:$13.00
- FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
Deftly directed and strongly performed, this delivers exciting thrills throughout.
For a considerable slab of time, young Aussie filmmaker Patrick Hughes looked like the man most likely. He'd directed the highly impressive twenty-minute short The Director in 2000, and followed that up with the witty Tropfest winner The Lighter in 2001. The presumed feature film, however, never eventuated, with Hughes embarking on a successful career in the world of advertising. But now, several years after making his first splash, the writer/director finally enters the big leagues, and makes a striking debut with the tense neo-western thriller Red Hill, which wears its genre influences and low budget ingenuity like a bloodied badge of honour.
When young cop Shane Cooper (the excellent Ryan Kwanten) arrives in a small town in Victoria's high country for his first day on duty, he's expecting a quiet introduction into the world of low key community policing. What he gets, however, is a crash course in violence and rough country justice, as an enigmatic escaped convict (Tommy Lewis) rides into town, looking for revenge, which he's eager to dispense at the end of a shotgun. As the bullets fly, Cooper tries to get to the bottom of this bloody tirade, but receives scant information from his superior, rough-as-guts lawman Old Bill (Steve Bisley in an intimidating, highly inventive, near career-best performance).
While almost bald-faced in its positioning as a "calling card" movie (Hughes practically screams that he's the man to tap if Hollywood has a thriller that needs directing), Red Hill courses with a real sense of urgency. Almost from the get-go, the tension is ratcheted up through a series of strikingly written and directed scenes, but never at the expense of characterisation. Though archetypal, the characters are all relatable and believable within the story's schemata, while the transplanted western tropes are always good fun.
Tight, economic, exciting and strongly performed, Red Hill is a truly auspicious debut.