The more I think about Killing Grounds the more impressed I am. What could have been a film riddled with cliches ends up being one which subverts them all. Killing Grounds has couple Sam and Ian going camping in the Australian outback only to come in contact with a couple of deranged country folk. Killing Grounds could easily be compared to Wolf Creek, a couple in the Australian outback being terrorised by rough Australians, however director Damien Power’s obvious knowledge of the genre and willingness to bend the rules takes the film into a completely different direction.
The script is strong and slowly siphers out clues as to two time-lines going on in the same location, both narrative arcs showing two different groups of victims brutalised by the villains German and Chook. This gives time to flesh out both narratives and to switch on the viewer’s mind. Both stories find their crescendo at the same moment in the film (thanks to the killer editing) to make some brutal film making. As can be expected in a film like this the cinematography is beautiful and unsettling featuring a fascinating and unnerving sequence including a toddler and the lead female Sam.
What I found most compelling in the film and what other victim – vs – killers need to take notice of is the amount of detail and depth every character has. Firstly the ‘baddies’ Chook and German’s characters have strong character arcs where their actions and journey, especially Chook’s, is understandable even if it is barbaric. The main protagonists Sam and Ian are characters worth fighting for, in part to the acting and script. There is a twist that happens later on in the film between them both which was a mighty touchdown for me and a massive F U to the stereotypes of the genre.
It’s always a pleasant surprise to be thrown off course with horror films, unable to know what’s around the corner even for a horror fanatic. Check out Killing Grounds, it’s bloody brilliant.
KILLING GROUND is directed by Damien Power and will be in select theaters and VOD on July 21st courtesy of IFC Midnight