Killing Ground (2016)

  • Director: Damian PowerMV5BMjI0MjE4MDI1OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDkwOTc3MjI@._V1_
  • Writer: Damian Power
  • Cast: Harriet Dyer, Aaron Pedersen, Aaron Glenane

‘You’ve gotta make the most of your opportunities!’

A likeable couple, on a New Year’s Eve camping trip, set up their tent just down the beach from what turns out to be an abandoned campsite – a discovery that sets off a chain of horrific events which will see the couple fighting for their lives.

I saw this film for the first time at Grimmfest in October last year. My initial reaction was basically a series of expletives, followed by some head-scratching as to whether I enjoyed it or not:

This film has stuck in my head over the past week, and I’ve found myself discussing it with a few people. Now, I’m perfectly at home with so called ‘torture porn’ and am fond of a bit of ‘ozploitation’. However, aspects of this film made me so uncomfortable that I struggled to enjoy it. That said, surely quality horror should be disturbing?! It is certainly a very well made horror film, but some of the content pushed boundaries for me that I didn’t really know I had (when it comes to fictional horror). I will be watching it again, I will be dissecting it again, and there’s a good chance I’ll decide I love it – but on first viewing it was a bit much for me. It’s been a long time since I felt that way about a horror film!

 

It made me contemplate where my limits are when it comes to horror, and has popped into my head a number of times since I saw it.

Anyway, I had the chance to re-watch this at the weekend.

On second viewing, I still found it to be a powerful film, and the way the tension is built over the course of the movie is extremely skillful. Some of the content is very nasty, so be warned.

I think the most important aspect of the film is how the killers are characterised. By putting faces and full personalities to the killers, and making the viewer follow the story from the perspective of German and Chook (our bad guys) as often as the viewpoint of the potential victims, you’re drawn into the story in quite a complicated way. You can see how the characters could almost be likable in a different setting and so, when they commit these heinous acts, I think I felt a sense of guilt by association! These aren’t masked, superhuman, cartoonish baddies inexhaustibly stalking their prey – they’re guys down the pub, whose jokes we’ve laughed at, and who we’ve maybe felt a bit for sorry for…before all the extreme violence and psychopathic behaviour begins. The actors Pederson and Glenane are brilliant.

A really interesting film, which I suspect will stand up to a third and fourth viewing at some point down the line.

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