Fantastic Fest Review: Snowtown



Earlier this year, I heard about a potentially cool horror film from Australia called Snowtown. My next-door neighbor had just returned from Down Under and had seen advertisements for this film. He thought Snowtown was my kind of movie and boy was he right.

Snowtown is a film based on real-life serial killer John Bunting. Bunting was the ringleader of a group who perpetrated a series of murders that became known as the Snowtown Murders. The murders took place in a town near Adelaide in Southern Australia and were also known as the Bodies in Barrels murders, as this is how the bodies were stored.

The movie starts with a single mother who leaves her children with a male friend, who proceeds to take nude pictures of the boys, it is also implied that he abuses them while they're in his care. It doesn't take long for the mother to realize something is wrong with her children and she quickly calls the authorities. When the pedophile is released quickly on bail she enlists people to help her carry out vigilante justice against the pedophile. Ultimately she finds John Bunting, who harasses the neighbor, eventually convincing him to leave.

It's after the success of driving out the pedophile that things begin to get out of hand. Over the dinner table, people from the neighborhood decide it would be a good idea to rid themselves of people they suspect of questionable behavior. These conversations would be considered benign over many other dinner tables but in Bunting's eyes, it's a call to action. A call he executes on.

Snowtown focuses on two main characters: John Bunting, portrayed by Daniell Henshall, and 16-year-old victim of abuse Jamie Vlassakis, played by Lucas Pittaway. Henshall plays Bunting as a handsome likable person. I think it's the Everyman nature of the character that makes the role that much more scary. You can never identify a sociopath by his looks. If you recall Ted Bundy was rather handsome as well, which made it that much easier for him to attract his victims. Pittaway, who looks a tad like Heath Ledger, does a great job of playing the young victim, yet willing accomplice to Bunting's murder spree.

Another big contributor to this story is the score. I think it's the story along with the sound that caused my fatigue.

Snowtown is a well-crafted film, directed by Justin Kurze, that sets a foreboding tone from the very beginning and doesn't let you rest for a moment. I left the theatre exhausted from the tension. While graphic in parts, Snowtown does an effective job of showing how crazed lunatics go about their "business." I consider the movie one of the hidden gems of Fantastic Fest. Check it out!



great review, just one correction only one murder was actually done in Snowtown, the barrels discovered in a disused bank vault there, most of the murders were done in Adelaide thanking you