Category Archives: Snowtown


First time director Justin Kurzel’s Snowtown is the latest instalment in the burgeoning genre of what can be called, for want of a better term, ‘underclass cinema’.

Animal Kingdom (2010), Samson and Delilah (2009), Boxing Day (2007), Candy (2006), The Boys (1998), and Idiot Box (1996) are all Australian examples of underclass cinema, as are US films like Winter’s Bone (2010) and Frozen River (2008), to name a few.

What they share is their almost forensic depiction of the criminal, sexual and psychological dysfunction of the underclass in Western post-industrial society. I don’t want to argue about whether these films are accurate or a stereotype. The answer is that most of the have elements of both.

Snowtown is set in the bleak housing estates of Adelaide’s northern suburbs. There’s lots of beige brick public housing, kids play with stolen supermarket trollies, and spent looking women fag on in front of poker machines.

Lest this needs further sign posting, within minutes of the film’s opening ground-down mother Elizabeth (Louise Harris) has let her boyfriend from across the road mind her three boys while she goes to Centrelink. He feeds them, then tells them to strip and photographs them. Their passive acquiesce to this abuse sets the tone for the rest of the film.… Read more

Snowtown: the first review

Since my post earlier this year on Snowtown, the much anticipated cinematic take on Australia’s worst serial killing spree, I’ve been on the look-out for the first reviews. Well, I’ve found one.

Snowtown premiered at the Adelaide Film Festival in late February. You can read the review, from the website Cut Print Reviewhere.

The review, by Anders Wotzke, is not particularly positive. Wotzke writes that “the unrelentingly grisly first-time feature from Australian director Justin Kurzel that struggles to build an emotional rapport with its audience”.

His take corresponds with what I’ve heard from others who attended the Adelaide Festival, that Snowtown tries but fails to emulate the look and feel of the 1998 Australian film, The Boys.

Regardless, I expect I’ll be heading to the cinema to check out Snowtown for myself, if for no other reason than to support a crime film from a first time Australian director.

Snowtown is in cinemas nationally in May.


2010 was a great year for Australian crime film. In addition to the excellent Animal Kingdom, last year saw the release of the neo-noir Western,  Red Hill, and the gritty revenge flick, The Horseman.

While one can argue the merits and otherwise of aspects of these films, all three were highly original, energetic attempts to put an Australian face on some of key sub-genres of crime film.

Interestingly, all three were also made by first time directors.

This trend appears set to continue in 2011 with the yet to be released Snowtown, first time director Justin Kurzel’s take on one of Australia’s worst serial killing sprees, the ‘Snowtown murders’.

For those who need to be brought up to speed, the Snowtown murders, also known as the ‘bodies in the barrels murders’, involved the killing of 12 people between August 1992 and May 1999. The crimes were discovered when the remains of  8 of the victims were found in barrels of acid in a disused bank building in Snowtown, South Australia, a small economically depressed area 145 kilometres north of Adelaide.

Four people were eventually arrested for the murders. The ringleader, John Bunting, was a white trash suburban psychopath with neo-Nazi leanings who hated gays, pedophiles, very fat people and drug users.… Read more