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Killing Grounds


Stars: Aaron Pedersen, Harriet Dyer, Ian Meadows, Aaron Glenane, Maya Stange, Julian Garner, Tiarnie Coupland, Liam Parkes, Riley Parkes, Chris Armstrong

Director: Damien Power

Another week, another horror movie, fresh (although 'fresh' isn't exactly the word that comes to mind after seeing first-lime director and screenwriter Power's collection of genre clichés assembled for his debut shocker which, he tells us, is "a lean, unorthodox genre film inspired by the classic character-driven survival thrillers of the 70s".

"Lean?" - yes.

"Unorthodox?" - "No" - not unless you've never seen luckless people being hunted to death by crazy killers before.

The over-predictable show gains useful impact from being shot on location in Darkest Australia where luckless doctor Meadows takes his lover Dyer for a break in a national park where she accepts his proposal of marriage and continue their outing despite becoming uneasy at the sight of a deserted tent and and empty SVU.

And then, in the hallowed tradition of the genre's cliches, they end up fighting to stay alive when sadistic crazed killers - ex-convict Pedersen and his dim fellow madman Glenane - hunt them through the wilds with murder in mind...

To be fair Killing Grounds clichés are somewhat vitiated by interesting location shooting and the unfamiliar faces of the cast.

That said, the genre unpleasantness is familiar and if it's nastiness you're desperate for, then Powers provides, trying (and largely failing) to offer something unfamiliar by telling his tale with the unnecessary pretentiousness of back-and-forth-in-time storytelling which regrettably had me longing for the end credits.

(The film was screened at the recent Frightfest horrorflick festival which, no longer sponsored by Channel 4. Is now sponsored by television's The Horror Channel. Which seems to me to be appropriate since its appears to signal that if you wait you can become a shockfilm completest by catching up with Killing Grounds on television instead of paying to see it).

Alan Frank

Australia 2016. UK Distributor: Vertigo. Colour.
88 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 2, Swearing 3.

Review date: 01 Oct 2017