The Snowtown Murders


Generally favorable reviews - based on 13 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 13
  2. Negative: 2 out of 13

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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Jeannette Catsoulis
    Mar 1, 2012
    The Snowtown Murders reminds us that sometimes evil is immediately recognizable, but at other times it comes bearing bacon and beer.
  2. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Mar 14, 2012
    The film is a chilling study of an evil, dominant personality and his victims. It works primarily through an astonishingly good performance by Daniel Henshall as Bunting.
  3. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Mar 2, 2012
    An impressive but exceptionally disturbing feature debut from Australian director Justin Kurzel that pushes the new wave of Aussie crime films up a notch.
  4. Reviewed by: Alison Willmore
    Mar 1, 2012
    The Snowtown Murders is the latest and bleakest in a string of Australian crime films showing flashes of virtuoso talent, and has more than a little in common with David Michôd's 2010 hit "Animal Kingdom."
  5. Reviewed by: Kim Newman
    Feb 26, 2012
    Terrific performances, especially from the menacing, lazily charismatic Henshall, and debut director Kurzel's expressionist storytelling make for an Aussie film well worth hunting down. A tough but seriously rewarding watch.
  6. Reviewed by: Megan Lehmann
    Feb 26, 2012
    Only the truly ghoulish will find any pleasure in Snowtown, Justin Kurzel's well-crafted but hard-to-watch true-crime debut.
  7. Reviewed by: Noel Murray
    Feb 29, 2012
    The sense of enervation that creeps into the movie's second half is bothersome mainly because The Snowtown Murders is often brilliant in its depiction of the mundanity of evil.
  8. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Feb 29, 2012
    The Snowtown Murders manages to become a compelling exercise that excels at making horrible acts look shockingly listless.
  9. Reviewed by: Kenji Fujishima
    Feb 26, 2012
    Whatever one ends up thinking about The Snowtown Murders, it's difficult to deny that it's a deeply impressive work.
  10. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Feb 28, 2012
    Cigarettes are sucked hungrily by all involved, old and young, in the trashscape of this depressing Australian crime film - a movie that heaps so much dank atmosphere on its suburbanites, you can't help but sigh with relief when events turn to serial killing (finally?).
  11. Reviewed by: Richard Kuipers
    Feb 26, 2012
    The result is a movie that can be admired in many respects from a distance but is progressively less emotionally engaging.
  12. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Mar 2, 2012
    Overlong and grim to the point where some scenes are virtually unwatchable.
  13. Reviewed by: Karina Longworth
    Feb 28, 2012
    This slog adds up to nothing other than the shocking truism that average people will do horrible things primarily because someone tells them to.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 18 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 8
  2. Negative: 0 out of 8
  1. Dec 15, 2012
    Snowtown is one of those films that is extremely difficult to watch. However,although some of the imagery is very unpleasant it isn't asSnowtown is one of those films that is extremely difficult to watch. However,although some of the imagery is very unpleasant it isn't as overly graphic as it could have been. The tone of the film is the unsettling presence. Aided by stark cinematography and matter of fact editing, director Justin Kurzel could not have done a better job in setting the scene. Adapted from real events that are depicted in two books, one of which 'The Bodies in the Barrels Murders' I have read, the visuals here are actually nowhere near as graphic as the prose. Daniel Henshall is a terrifying presence and gives an all too believable performance as the unflinchingly sadistic John Bunting whose all encompassing control is fatal. Whilst I do feel that this is a very important film, and there is no denying its power and effect, I have to say that it is not one that I will ever watch again. Every minute of the running time I felt trepidation and stress about what was to come. Having read the book and the reviews for the film I knew my unease was not unfounded. A film to admire and respect enormously, but no one can say this enjoyable. Good yes, but enjoyable never. Full Review »
  2. Aug 21, 2012
    Beautifully done. Really makes you feel like you were there, even though I live in USA. On the same par as the movie "Michael." Just wow!Beautifully done. Really makes you feel like you were there, even though I live in USA. On the same par as the movie "Michael." Just wow! But not for the faint of heart (as a previous poster mentioned). If you have an interest in twisted (at least somewhat true) stories, then this is for you! Well acted. My only con is that I feel like I need to Wiki this story to find out the actual details, not that the movie deviated from them, just so I know how it went down according to Aussie historical accounts....BRAVO! Full Review »
  3. Mar 4, 2012
    On the face of things, it is extremely difficult to find fault with Snowtown - artistically and technically speaking, it is flawless.On the face of things, it is extremely difficult to find fault with Snowtown - artistically and technically speaking, it is flawless. Brilliantly-filmed and beautifully acted, particularly by the two central actors, Daniel Henshall playing a charismatic and utterly terrifying John Bunting, and Lucas Pittaway playing the withdrawn, vulnerable and emotionally unstable young man James Vlassakis, who is gradually corrupted by Bunting's influence, until he actively participates in the brutal series of murders himself. Both Henshall and Pittaway are simply spellbinding. For me, I found the film a little too real. When filmmaking is like this, depicting such a recent and traumatic real-world event in such an unflinching and horrifying matter, it can be extremely difficult to watch. You feel restrained, forced to just sit and observe the nightmare unfold on screen (though, chillingly, you just can't shake the thought that what you are watching really did happen in a small, Australian town just over a decade ago). The extended scenes of brutality are almost unbearable, not necessarily because of the graphic detail shown (there is relatively little), but because of their intensity, the unrelenting human monstrosity on show, and their gruelling length - the feeling of unease builds to unbearable levels, but rather than giving the viewer a release, the scene just carries on, until you feel physically sick. Never is this better demonstrated than in the scene where Bunting and one of his associates are strangling one of their victims in a bathtub, and taking great pleasure out of prolonging the man's pain as long as possible. James witnesses what is taking place, and tries to leave, providing a welcome relief for the viewer as he exits the house, muffling the horrific sounds of the victim's struggle, but then, just as we think we've escaped, Bunting calls James back inside, and we are forced to witness the horror through to its end. I really did find the film too close-to-the-bone, and quite nauseating at times. I understand director Justin Kurzel and writer Shaun Grant's aim was to depict the Snowtown Murders honestly, realistically and without sympathy for the culprits, but the viewing experience they put their audience through is nothing short of torture. It's beyond unpleasant to watch, and the whole film, and what it hopes to achieve, quite frankly feels a bit nasty. Despite its undeniably brave depictions of a real-life series of murders, its striking cinematography, memorable performances and a clever and sinister "monstrous family" dynamic between Bunting and his disciples, Snowtown is not a film I could ever watch again. I like to keep a little more distance between myself and a killer, and being allowed inside the dark recesses of Bunting's mind and watching him influence so many innocents with his natural charisma, and gradually corrupting them to their very core is just too upsetting. I commend Daniel Henshall for his captivating performance, but I honestly don't know how he can sleep at night, having journeyed so far into the state of mind of one of the most depraved and evil men in Australian history. Snowtown made me feel ill throughout its mercilessly long run-time, and it still makes me feel nauseous while I wrote this review. I'm not sure a film should ever have an effect like that on a viewer. I will never forget the film, but I almost wish I could. Full Review »