Snowtown (2011) - 7/10
Snowtown starts with a dark ominous tone and Jamie telling us about a dream that’s more of a nightmare. Jamie (Lucas Pittaway) seems quite blasé about it though, but he’s generally very detached. Which is probably a good thing, for him at least. We’re in Australia, but it’s not sunny and smiley. It’s bleak, gritty, dark and genuinely menacing. Jamie’s family seem tight, his brothers at least. His mum has spilt up with his dad and there’s a new bloke in the picture, Jeffery (Frank Cwiertniak), who likes to take pictures of them, naked. This as you can imagine this doesn’t go down well with Mum Elizabeth (Louise Harris), who calls the cops and goes to church. She’s not going to find answers there and the cops are useless, but she does find John (Daniel Henshall). He seems nice, practical, cooking, fixing cars, stirring vigilante retribution against Jeffery the paedophile. For the faint hearted it is not. Everyone seems to like John. Jamie does. Taken in by a new father figure. Teaching him how to ride a motorbike and stand up for himself. Not that he’s much choice. John is intimidating. With a cold stare you can’t avoid. He’s dangerous. They seem to live in a hellish world full of molesters evading whatever nonexistent police there is and John with his mate Rob take it upon themselves with the help of Barry (Richard Green) a cross dressing informant, to seek their own justice. It’s obvious what’s happening, even if Jamie doesn’t see it right away. By the time he sees John for what he really is, it’s too late. Based on true events, this is a harrowing film. There’s no light. There’s no heart. It’s brutal, violently and emotionally from beginning to devastating end. Henshall is… I’m not sure great is the right word, he’s brilliantly vile. John gets off on the retribution. He enjoys the planning, talking about what should be done to the targets he identifies. It’s well put together too, the pace is slow, the colour stripped out, the soundtrack when there, is chillingly suspenseful. However it does venture into torture porn. It’s not really needed, it doesn’t serve the story, it is extremely uncomfortable. It’s a shame as for the most part it treads perfectly. It’s horrifyingly graphic and realistic. The camera often close and loose, as a viewer you’re as trapped as Jamie. Things are never really controlled in Snowtown, but still it manages to unravel further and further. It’s a really good film, but a bit too harrowing for me to really enjoy.