Snowtown (2011)

106.

★★★★

Directed by: Justin Kurzel
Written by: Shaun Grant
Starring: Lucas Pittaway, Daniel Henshall and Louise Harris

In South Australia, eleven bodies were found in an abandoned bank, decomposing in barrels of acid. The story behind the famous Snowtown murders, and Australia’s worst serial-killer, John Bunting, is given a chillingly dramatic recount through the film Snowtown– an astonishing and gripping debut by director Justin Kurzel.

Unknown Henshall delivers a terrifyingly terrific performance

Set in the Adelaide suburbs of the late 90’s, Snowtown follows the experience of Jamie (Pittaway) – a sixteen year old victim of sexual abuse, along with his two younger brothers. But when Jamie’s mother brings home new boyfriend John (Henshall), whose strong opinions against pedophiles and homosexuals shake up the neighborhood, Jamie’s victimization is turned into a terrifying reversal of vengeance and a twisted take on justice.

The performances in Snowtown give the film its razor sharp grittiness. Daniel Henshall, in particular, owns the role of John Bunting with a disturbingly controlled sense of maliciousness and dominates the film with an unforgettable presence. Lucas Pittaway also impresses with his authentic portrayal of young Jamie who, despite being an accomplice to the murders, is burdened with an innocence and helplessness that oddly attaches itself to John and his heinous crimes.

As a dark Australian drama, Snowtown is unflinching, uncompromising, and powerful in its representation of true events. This is Australian indie filmmaking at its best.

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