Review this movie
Mar 4, 2012On 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actors, Daniel Henshall playing a charismatic and utterly terrifying John Bunting, and Lucas Pittaway playing the withdrawn, vulnerable and emotionally unstable young man JamesOn the face of things, it is extremely difficult to find fault with Snowtown - artistically and technically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actors, Daniel Henshall playing a charismatic and utterly terrifying John Bunting, and Lucas Pittaway playing the withdrawn, vulnerable and emotionally unstable young man James Vlassakis, who is gradually corrupted by Bunting's influence, until he actively participates in the brutal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.… Expand
Jun 14, 2013As challenging and uncomfortable to watch as dramatised events get. Technically astounding but completely fixates on the most disturbing aspects of life; the first hour alone submits the viewer to sexual abuse, sodomy, murder, and the killing of animals. Not for the faint of heart.