Australia’s ‘Snowtown’ is Now On My Radar

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While sorting through the films showing at Cannes there are a couple of days where I have some openings so I began searching for movies that weren’t part of the official selection and came across a film called Snowtown a film from first time feature film director Justin Kurzel centered on John Bunting, Australia’s most notorious serial killer.

Critical quotes are piling up, but they are also warning this isn’t just another serial killer feature. Frank Hatherley from Screen Daily writes, “Snowtown is no ordinary ‘serial killer’ movie. There is no charismatic Hannibal Lector cooking up thrills, no Wolf Creek super-hermit delivering hold-my-hand multiplex horrors. In a triumph of naturalism, debut director Justin Kurzel has brilliantly recreated scenes from Australia’s most notorious killing/torture spree.”

Jim Schembri of The Age called it “an absolutely mesmerizing, uncompromising crime-movie masterpiece; understated in style, chilling in effect, devastating in impact.”

I also reached out to resident Aussie, Clint from Moviehole.net and asked him over Twitter if he’d seen it. He replied, “Yeah, Snowtown is a great film but it’s very, very disturbing. Dare I say the most harrowing film in years.” When I told him I planned on seeing it at Cannes he wrote, “Yes, check it out, Snowtown is unquestionably a must see movie — but eat afterwards, not before.”

So what is this all about? Over at The Guardian Ed Gibbs gives us a story breakdown of the actual events:

In 1999, eight bodies were discovered within a disused former bank in neighbouring Snowtown (four others were subsequently discovered in adjacent locations). They were dismembered, stored in over-sized barrels and preserved in acid. The victims, from the Salisbury North area, were, Bunting reportedly claimed, rumoured to be gay, paedophiles, or drug addicts, or simply people Bunting considered undesirable. The case soon became known as the “bodies in the barrels” murders. They remain Australia’s worst-ever spate of serial killings.

The script comes from first-timer Shaun Grant and Kurzel, who grew up only 10 minutes away from where the crimes took place, told Gibbs, “I guess there was a burning question in me, as to why and how this happened,” Kurzel says. “The script had a very fresh perspective, and a very strong point of view: this kid’s point of view. I was very conscious that it should be told from the inside out. That meant casting mostly first-timers – and shooting it all in the area, where it happened.”

Can you now see why I’m interested in checking it out for myself?

The film is playing in this year’s Critics Week lineup and I have a trailer and a clip to show you now. Check ’em out below along with the four images in the gallery above and let me know what you think.