- Director:Justin Kurzel
- Cast:Daniel Henshall , Lucas Pittaway
- Release Date:May 19, 2011
- Running time:120 minutes
- Film Worth:$8.00
- FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
While atmospheric and competently acted, this hard-to-watch film ends up having nothing to say.
Making a film from the point of view of a serial killer is a daunting prospect. Alfred Hitchcock pulled it off, shockingly, in Psycho, as did Patty Jenkins - aided immeasurably by Charlize Theron's tour-de-force performance - in Monster. The problem with Snowtown, a grotesque and exploitative depiction of the infamous Snowtown murders in South Australia, is that it has nothing to say. Despite being well photographed and competently acted, it needed a complex performance like Theron's to wring nuance out of the straightforward script.
Just as well, you might say, that it doesn't sensationalise the acts of psychopath, homophobe and all-round nasty piece of work John Bunting, who between 1992 and 1998 murdered eleven people in Adelaide's northern suburbs. Daniel Henshall plays Bunting, frighteningly but without depth, as a too-calm-to-be-true monster who takes tangible pleasure in killing. Bunting's hatred influences and deadens the young James Vlassakis (Lucas Pittaway), a victim of paedophilia and child rape. The moderately sympathetic Vlassakis eventually becomes a reluctant co-conspirator in the murders. He's the supposed protagonist, but he's too passive a presence (and has what seems like less than a page of dialogue the entire film) to fully garner our investment.
First time director Justin Kurzel tells the story chronologically, from one murder to the next, though we are thankfully spared the more grisly details. Some of the victims were known or rumoured paedophiles, while others were killed for far more petty reasons (one was an obese woman, another, a heroin addict). Perhaps the real murders were this senseless, but it doesn't make the film any more palatable, nor does it shed any light on how Bunting developed into such a sociopath. It's technically proficient, and succeeds in creating a perverse atmosphere, but it doesn't create a world that you'll want to inhabit for very long.