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.
The victims were killed, often tortured beforehand, on a whim for perceived infringements of Bunting’s personal code. They included friends and relatives of the killers. Usually, the victims social security and bank details were obtained and the murderers continued to collect their benefits after their deaths.
As a rule, I ‘m not usually a huge fan of true crime film, but if the menace Kurzel has managed to cram into this very short teaser trailer is anything to go by, Snowtown it looks pretty compelling. The vibe I get from it is similar to the 1998 Australian film The Boys.
Loosely based on another real life crime, the rape and killing of a young nurse in Sydney, The Boys focused on the 24 hours leading up to the crime, in which violent psychopath Brett Sprague (brilliantly played by Aussie actor David Wehnam), is released from prison and returns to his long-suffering mother’s house in Sydney’s western suburbs.
It’s been several years since I’ve seen The Boys, but I remember the ominous, claustrophobic feel produced as Speague, accompanied by a moody score by Australian jazz bad The Necks, prowled the interiors of the mother’s flimsy fibro house like a ticking time bomb, bashing her boyfriend, abusing his girlfriend, and winding up his two brothers. From the very first frame there’s a sense bad things are going to happen, that in no way detracts from the horror for the viewer when they do.
The Boys attempted to examine what kind of people would commit such a horrendous crime and the environment that would produce them. Snowtown looks set to cover similar terrain, hopefully with similar effectiveness.
Snowtown will premier at the Adelaide film Festival in late February.