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The Snowtown Murders Reviews

Page 1 of 31
Cynthia S

Super Reviewer

August 19, 2012
Confusing. Slow. Sick...
Jack Hawkins
Jack Hawkins

Super Reviewer

January 7, 2013
Though a realistic, unnerving depiction of psychopathy and underclass, 'Snowtown' is too slow and features a slew of characters who you don't care for whatsoever.
Matthew Samuel M

Super Reviewer

August 26, 2012
Ugly and fascinating. Uncomfortable yet captivating. Overall a sad, dark film that is extremely well crafted, acted and directed.
Cameron S

Super Reviewer

July 10, 2012
Based on real murders in Australia, 'Snowtown' follows a seemingly nice man as he manipulates a teenage boy into killing.

The first striking feature of 'Snowtown' is how bleak it is, the grainy filter and dark overtones give the film's cinematography a sense of verisimilitude which causes the film to be even more striking. The domestic setting also helps with the sense of realism.

The film's cast all do good jobs, especially Daniel Henshell who plays the manipulative serial killer, John, the driving force of the film's narrative. Lucas Pittaway also does an outstanding job in his first feature film.

One of my favourite parts of 'Snowtown' is the soundtrack, the incessant beat of a synthesised Didgeridoo runs throughout the film building tension and drew me even deeper into the world of 'Snowtown'.

During the middle of the film something goes of pace, for about 15 minutes I was just like "what?*. This was the biggest problem for me, apart from that it was a gripping, if slightly overlong study of manipulation.
rubystevens
rubystevens

Super Reviewer

March 31, 2012
grimmer than grim tale of australia's worst serial killer. the domestic setting makes it all the more creepy
Anthony L

Super Reviewer

March 27, 2012
A chilling and grim film based on the testimonies regarding the Snowtown murders and Oz's biggest serial killer, John Bunting. Justin Kurzel has directed a brilliant film. It is great visually, in pace and mood. It is uncomfortable viewing but he tells the story as it is, grim and frightening. The most uncomfortable fact for many is the fact that John Bunting, at first at least, could sound like someone you might meet in a pub, his initial targets being paedophiles - I've often heard people say they should be hanged, castrated etc, there is a real moral question at its core that will make you think about your own thoughts and beliefs in the matter. If that's not bad enough, he then gets a little more indiscriminate and the film gets more and more uncomfortable. It is a great film but a very hard one to watch. The performances are also very good, adding to the eerie sense of realism.
familiar s

Super Reviewer

January 13, 2012
This was a pure chance encounter. When I stumbled upon it, I realized that it's based on real life events. Its genre only added fuel to the fire. As usual, I decided not to read any further than that at that moment. I don't know whether I was wrong or right in my decision, but the movie's a nasty piece of work. On IMDb, some say that it's better to know about the case before going for the movie. Now, won't that kill the thrill? But it's bound to go over the top for most of the part otherwise. Surely did for me. While some find the story-telling incredible, I fall among those who consider it extremely worse (I've rightly reserved the 'worst' title for myself) and faulty. Wish the director had cared not to be so creative. He leaves too many blanks to be filled up. It's not even appropriately informative owing to its execution. Can't recommend this confusion.


ADD-IT: Some sources suggest that the director was helpless with the storytelling owing to what facts were at hand and officially available. I don't find that an ideal excuse either. If that's the case, he should have rather left it alone.
Nicki M

Super Reviewer

December 30, 2011
This was too horrible for me. Well acted and filmed movie, but awful subject matter and highly unpleasant to watch. I rated it probably lower than it deserves, but I really enjoyed this film less and less as it went on.
Some of the murder stuff was just too drawn out and revolting, and the bits with the kangaroos and the dog were even worse.
TomBowler
TomBowler

Super Reviewer

May 23, 2011
Serial killers have often afforded some incredible results in terms of film: Silence of the Lambs, Se7en, Zodiac etc. But very few have delved so deeply and boldly into the horrifying nature of the serial killer mind as Justin Kurzel's Snowtown. The film documents the journey of John Bunting and his reign as self-appointed vigilante of the outer suburbs of Adelaide. Known as Australia's worst serial killer, Bunting took the burden of ridding South Australia of homosexuals and pedophiles by torturing and killing them one by one.

We take up the story with a boy named Jamie Vlassakis: a typical Snowtown resident who begins the film being sexually exploited by his mother's new boyfriend and raped by his brother. John Bunting enters the story as the family's saviour, harassing the boyfriend until he leaves the neighbourhood by way of vandalising his house with everything from ice-cream to offal. John takes Jamie under his wing as a fellow vigilante, but things get a little more complicated when John reveals the extent of his own personal justice system.

The film has already raised a lot of kerfuffle from reviewers and critics, some claiming it to be a masterpiece, others claiming it to be depraved and disgusting. And while the violence involved in the film is certainly more winceworthy than the entire Saw boxset, I for one am definitely more in the masterpiece section.

Let's get one thing straight, this isn't a film you'll ever want to see again, that's provided you even see it in the first place. There's nothing especially endearing about it. But its power lies in the incredible magnetism it has; the ability to rivet the viewer's eyes to the screen whether they want to watch or not. This is largely due to Kurzel's direction. Shot astutely in docu-drama style, Kurzel's mis-en-scene and camerawork is fascinatingly unsettling. The large lack of formalist aspects other than the occassional slow-motion and the less occassional time-lapse, the realism embeds the film with the sense that what's happening onscreen isn't controlled; that it isn't just makeup and it's not just prosthetics, that what's happening onscreen is really happening. This is an entire world away from the deathtraps of Saw or the torture chambers of Hostel. Here every single thing is felt, down to the very core. And whilst most of the violence is offscreen, it's set up in such a way that it's more disturbing and cringeworthy than any number of Magnum eyeholes. But the film isn't just a string of violent scenes. The dramatic moments are suspend breathtakingly by the beautifully restrained direction and every nuance in every syllable rings through like a clanging bell. Being rooted in the monotony set up at the start of the film means that any subtle change is felt instantly and every look speaks volumes. It may lack the class and sophistication of Animal Kingdom but this is a different film which sits perfectly in Kurzel's lingering shots.

At the centre of the film is Daniel Henshall as John Bunting. His performance is so perfectly judged and executed, it's difficult to tear your eyes away from him, even at his most horrifying moments. The intensity that burns in his eyes as he stares Jamie down or the fascination as a man is strangled in front of him is shown with complete commitment and inhabitance by Henshall. He is equal parts charismatic and terrifying, able to say everything he has to with a single look. The realism Henshall injects into his character is the mark of a real talent. His character is thouroughly unlikeable and there are few redeeming qualities about him. The fact that his character is so magnetic and fascinating is a tribute to his amazing performance. Lucas Pittaway plays Jamie with a similar level of realism, though his character is less incendiary than Henshall's. But the huge contrast between his everyday self and his more extreme moments emotionally hits home every time. Louise Harris' performance as Jamie's mother Elizabeth is fantastic. She is an explosive presence at times as well as a pitiful one at others, powerless against the forces surrounding her despite her initial intentions. But it's Henshall's incredible, unbridled performance as Bunting which steals the show.

The script is incredibly restrained. There are no catch phrases which will slip into pop-culture, no poignant insights into what our characters are thinking. We are left with the bare minimum, relying on subtext to fill in the gaps. It is a credit to the actors and the director that every sentiment is felt depsite the lack of words to make their meaning explicit.

The film itself brings to light the seedy underbelly of society, where prejudices thrive and justice is in the eyes of the beholder. The separate society is remeniscent of Winter's Bone and the rules which apply to the rest of the world are simply optional here. It also speaks to the inner workings of hatred and anger. As Bunting watches teenage boy Jeffrey stand with a brick in each hand dressed in a skirt and blouse, we are given a little insight in this one short scene as to where the hatred which drives him is born.

It may not be as progressive as Animal Kingdom, as heartfelt as Gallipoli or become as nationally loved as The Castle but this is a noteworthy edition to the ranks of Australian cinema sure to raise eyebrows and opinions all over the world.

Defining Scene:
John hands Jamie a gun and sets him a target.
c0up
c0up

Super Reviewer

May 21, 2011
'Snowtown'. Disturbing, and VERY tough going, but a brilliant debut feature of a charming, but manipulative killer's impact on a family.
Shawn M

Super Reviewer

May 9, 2012
After watching the CSI documentary, I couldn't help but be curious to know more.. Another reason, I'm from Adelaide and live less than 10 minutes away from where bunting lived and killed.. Apart from my hatred towards bunting and people like him, the movie was put together well enough for me to watch all the way through, its spot on correct.. well, to the way the documentary put it anyway, and is really suspenseful, shocking and worth a watch.
Joey S

Super Reviewer

April 9, 2013
Snowtown is not the type of movie that one can enjoy watching, but it's very intriguing as a bleak look at serial killers and their followers, and the fact that it's based on a true story makes it all the more interesting. It plays out almost like an Australian version of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, except the main character is not the murderer. It instead focuses on Australian teen Jamie Harvey who is introduced to John Bunting, a man with a charismatic personality as well as a deep-seated hatred of homosexuals, overweight people, and drug addicts. Despite John's clear bigotry he is very conversational and sometimes even charming, and after he helps Jamie's mother deal with an abusive boyfriend, Jamie begins to see John as a father figure of sorts. However, as people around Jamie begin to disappear, leaving behind only suspicious voice-mail messages that say they're moving away forever, Jamie discovers John's gruesome secret. For the first hour of Snowtown, it's primarily a very dark drama with very little violence happening on screen, save for one scene. However, the second half of the movie is much more brutal, and can be hard to watch in a number of scenes. The violence isn't so excessive to be tasteless, but it definitely gets pretty disturbing at times. Daniel Henshall gives a great performance as John Bunting, showing John's violent sociopathic nature while also giving him a Ted Bundy-esque charm when in the presence of company. Snowtown does seem to meander a little near the beginning, but it gradually picks up the pace until it reaches its more suspenseful and creepy second half and ends on an understated and eerie note.
PantaOz
PantaOz

Super Reviewer

September 1, 2012
Snowtown, known as "The Snowtown Murders" in the US, is debut feature film of Justin Kurzel. It was written by Shaun Grant and the story describes the real events from a small town in South Australia. Apart from Daniel Henshall and Richard Greene, all the actors were locals with no acting experience that Kurzel had found in the area where the events of the movie actually occurred with most from Davoren Park. The director himself grew up in the area and using locals would gave the movie authenticity and more documentary look which usually works well with real events on the screen.

These tragic events from a real horror human story are concentrated around the circle of disadvantaged locals from Davoren Park. Davoren Park is considered one of the most violent and dysfunctional suburbs in Australia and a place where emergency vehicles fear to go without a police escort. Locals were very reluctant to get involved and the director needed very long time to convince most of them.

This movie is NOT for everyone. Violent and very rough around the edges, will shock and upset most of normal viewers. It is very heavy movie - you could almost feel the bleak atmosphere becoming a burden. Slow pace works for the atmosphere but not for an average viewer.
Sundeep B

Super Reviewer

April 8, 2012
Based on the real life murders in Australia, this movie is an examination of John Bunting's character and his murder spree. It is an extremely difficult film to watch as it never ebbs out of the cul-de-sac of the people in the movie, in turn trapping you with it.

The acting is as first rate from all quarters , specially Daniel Hanshell as John Bunting.

Will not appeal to most of the people but definitely a cinematic triumph.
Nicolas K

Super Reviewer

September 22, 2012
A disturbing depiction of Australia's most notorious killer brilliantly portrayed by Daniel Henshall. On the surface he seems friendly, with his calm approach and his seemingly genuine smile on his face. But don't be fooled; he is the face of evil. The soundtrack is eerie and adds and extra chill factor to this artfully directed film.
Alec B

Super Reviewer

December 17, 2012
Its realistic to a fault. I'm glad that Justin Kurzel wanted to makes a film that was true to the events and that wouldn't try to "entertain" its audience. But it becomes so brutal on occasion that its almost unwatchable. Still, its fascinating and terrifying for the way its main character moves from sexual trauma, to vigilantism, to desensitization and finally to murder.
Daniel P

Super Reviewer

June 4, 2011
Astonishing. Review soon.
Brad S

Super Reviewer

January 1, 2012
Tense, numbing, and deeply affecting story of skewed morality and innocence corrupted by a psychopath. Unrelenting in it's brutality, it will haunt you, and fascinate you for days. Powerful stuff, but not for the faint of heart... or stomach.
Francisco  G.
Francisco G.

Super Reviewer

November 14, 2011
A very gritty and realistic look to Australia's most famous murders, Snowtown is an exceptionally well made movie on all aspects.
The way it portrays the interactions between these hopeless characters is amazing, backed up by brilliant performances by all the cast. The way we're drawn into this lower class ambiance is no easy trip and the realities shown are very hard to stomach.
There's just not an interesting story with an unusual approach going on here. Technically the movie is also flawless on the way it sucks the viewer into the environments with great simplistic shots (but very well composed) and an haunting soundtrack.

A great surprise and great indications for all the staff involved in the making of this flick. Keeping an eye out for them.
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