Snowtown Movie Review

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Movie: Snowtown

Review by Melanie Dinjaski

Director: Justin Kurzel

Stars: Daniel Henshall, Lucas Pittaway, Craig Coyne

Snowtown is one of those films you love to hate. As fascinating, intense and remarkable as it is, the story of murderers Jamie Vlassakis and John Bunting, is also horrific, brutal and painfully sad.

Set in the depressing housing projects in the northern suburbs of Adelaide, the film is based on the murders which occurred there between 1992-1999 (the bodies of which were later moved to the sleepy regional community of Snowtown).

The ‘Bodies in the Barrels murders’ were a gruesome chapter in South Australian history. But director Justin Kurzel has looked past the story’s horror flick potential (of which it has been exploited for in the past) and produced an emotional, psychological thriller. Through the eyes of fragile protagonist Jamie, the film explores the challenging circumstances which generations of residents in the area have had to endure. The impact of their experience goes some way in explaining how such cruel and vicious murders could have ever taken place.

Snowtown is not a kill count murder film. In Kurzel’s words it is also not just a story about “murderous, freaky bogans”. It is so much more than that. It is a powerful and moving film. One moment you’ll be yelling “Nooooo!” and covering your eyes, before finding yourself transfixed in jaw-dropping awe. It makes you angry at the struggle Jamie and his family must endure, and the cycle of violence that becomes exacerbated within the bored, poverty-stricken, naive and disengaged community Jamie and his family cannot escape from.

But most of all Snowtown shows the desire for belonging and family, and how humanity can emerge in a number of guises – though pain, through desperation, through fear, through frustration.

This is a stand-out, truly gripping Australian film.


4.5/5

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