Out of the Blue (Aramoana)

Critics Consensus

A dramatization of real-life terror that's rendered all the more powerful through its sensitivity, Out of the Blue succeeds as a gripping drama as well as a moving commemoration.



Reviews Counted: 25

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 2,586


All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 3.8/5

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Movie Info

Out of the Blue, New Zealand writer-director Robert Sarkies' long-awaited follow-up to his 1999 feature debut, Scarfies, recreates the events that led up to and surrounded David Gray's November 13, 1990 mass murder of 13 locals in the town of Aramoana, New Zealand. Sarkies, however, approaches the material not as exploitation nor as an action picture, but -- like Terrence Malick in his 1973 true crime picture Badlands -- as an understated and detached drama. Sarkies uses a contemplative and reflective approach and a small-town pace and resists gratuitousness, intersecting several tales of casualties and survivors and downplaying the brutal violence. One story involves the contentious relationship between fiftysomething Jim (Timothy Bartlett) and his mother (Lois Lawn); another has a mom, Julia Anne (Tandi Wright) informing her daughter Rewa (Jacinta Wawatai) and her beau's children that they plan to share a house; and in a third, eccentric gun nut David Gray (Matthew Sunderland) cracks and guns down Julia's boyfriend, Gerry (Simon Ferry), in cold blood. These only represent the first three threads in a complex narrative tapestry; the story ultimately gives way to tense hours as the locals, realizing that a predator is on the loose and will kill anyone he can find, barricade their homes and cower in fear. Cinematographer Greig Fraser gives the picture a chilly, wintry aesthetic, rich with whites and blues. The film co-stars Karl Urban; Graeme Tetley co-authored the script with Sarkies.


Karl Urban
as Nick Harvey
Lois Lawn
as Helen Dickson
Simon Ferry
as Garry Holden
Tandi Wright
as Julie-Anne Bryson
Paul Glover
as Paul Knox
William Kircher
as Stu Guthrie
Georgina Fabish
as Chiquita Holden
Timothy Bartlett
as Jimmy Dickson
Tony Bishop
as Ross Percy
Dave Dudfield
as AOS/ATS Officer
Fayth Rasmussen
as Stacey Percy
Natalie Ellis
as Dorothy Crimp
Murray Davidson
as Bank Manager
Fatu Ioane
as Aleki Tali
Baxter Cannell
as Dion Percy
Nick Duval-Smith
as Brian Wilson
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Critic Reviews for Out of the Blue (Aramoana)

All Critics (25) | Top Critics (8)

  • The usual dramatic affectations applied to such true-life material are largely absent; instead, Sarkies focuses on various quotidian elements that take on weight as the inevitable draws closer.

    Oct 18, 2008 | Rating: 4/6

    David Fear

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • A claustrophobic dramatic reconstruction of a 22-hour shooting spree in the sleepy coastal town of Aramoana, New Zealand, that left 13 people dead.

    Oct 18, 2008 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    Cath Clarke

    Top Critic
  • Sarkies avoids the genre's conventional trappings and prefers instead to concentrate on the ways in which the people of Aramoana deal with the unfolding event.

    Oct 19, 2007 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Robert Sarkies' dramatization of that event is as sensitive to its subject as it is stark in its rendering.

    Oct 19, 2007 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Without such thematic resonance, it plays like a more elaborate version of one of the dramatic re-creations seen on any number of true-crime television programs.

    Oct 19, 2007
  • Like Steven Spielberg's historical epics, the film shows the nastiest incidents from a great distance, or cuts away before a bullet's impact to show an onlooker's shocked reaction. The director confronts horror without wallowing in it.

    Oct 19, 2007 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Out of the Blue (Aramoana)


This was a beautiful and disturbing film about a madman in New Zealand. Based on a true story.

Juli Ryan
Juli Ryan

Super Reviewer


I often sit back to watch a "BIG" film only to end up thinking "What's the point?". Take X-Men Origins: Wolverine for example, a prequel about an indestructible man. We know he lives, we know he can't really be hurt. Then I watch a film like Out of the Blue. All I knew was the title and that Karl Urban would be in it. The film builds up at a nice pace, showing people doing normal daily things. There's one "eccentric" that adds a nervous tone, and rightly so. To say more would be to spoil it. It is based on a true story, but one I hadn't heard of. The film was full of the kind of nail-biting tension and shocking moments that are absent from those big blockbusters. It's shot perfectly and punctuates the one hour set-piece with quick quiet moments. No emotional blackmail to speak of either, and the excitement comes from nerves and not an overbearing, blood pumping score.

Luke Baldock
Luke Baldock

Super Reviewer


One of the only movies to totally upset me.Based on the true story set in New Zealand about a lone gunman thats go's berserk killing 13 men,women and children in a rurul town in 1990.To make it unsettling is that it plays like a documantry and that the performances are so real that it makes you feel that your there.This is certanly no hollywood movie.There's no heros and no one man army to save the day just a real story with real people and a place in history that your won't forget easy after watching this movie.One stand out performance is from Karl Urban who prove more of a actor here than any of the hollywood movies he as been in lately.

Brian De Guelle
Brian De Guelle

Super Reviewer


Disturbing story of a lone gunman on a killing spree in New Zealand which is well handled but offers little by way of explanation for sn increasingly common phenomenon.

Gordon Anderson
Gordon Anderson

Super Reviewer

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