Killing a person because she deserved it ; still an issue in some countries, under the concept of death penalty. Is a person worth killing?
We all thought one day, when someone insulted us, or bullied us, “I’m going to kill him”, or wish something bad would happen to him, thus, to which extent are we willing this to happen?
For his debut feature, director Justin Kurzel decided to adapt real events that happened in Australia in 1998: The Snowtown Murders.
What is extraordinary in his work, is that he chose to speak about murders that happened back then, but in a totally different approach, that is, not focusing on the murders but more on the effects the main murderer, John Bunting (Daniel Henshall) had on others, and how he contaminated and influenced his circle. Because, if we really go deep into the whole principle of “killing because that person did an awful thing”, rape, pedophilia, etc. we might have no problem with this person suffering and/or dying, especially if we take it personally. Therefore, we can be easily convinced that, yes, they should disappear, totally. But then, where do our morals, humanity go? And when and how, could we ever stop that, once accepted?
Going back to the plot; Jamie (Lucas Pittaway) is 16, and he lives in Adelaide, a poor suburb in Australia. He has been repeatedly abused, and he is not the only one, whereas everybody seems then to be aware of those rapes, nobody ever done a thing. As the police is reluctant about taking into consideration the multiple complains, Jamie’s mother, Elizabeth (Louise Harris), decided to get it done the other way. She is then, introduced to John Bunting, and things will little by little change.
The movie, has several strengths, starting its actors. They are all tremendously charismatic and as you look at them, in the context, you feel heavier, somehow, just like their characters should feel. Each one, knew how to perfectly embody its role, and provide brilliant performances.
And if the movie is considerably slow, it is actually, taking the rhythm of John’s contaminating his entourage, with his process established: getting rid of perverts, rapists and pedophiles.
He is a really interesting character. A nearly perfect father figure, with strong calm and confidence, but is also a cold blood murderer, who has this kind of “sociopathic virility”. You found out, that his confidence, comes from cutting penises, castrating men. Anger and excitement (maybe arousal), grew as the homicides kept going. He forced Jamie, to man up (but also his bothers, creating a beautiful scene, where the middle bother, is pulling up heavy bricks while dressed as a women) and abide to his new quest, to which was added new things. Indeed, as John was putting himself into Elizabeth’s children’s father, he developed, an urge to protect Jamie also. The psychology of the teenager, is therefore, as interesting, as his paternal figure. Indeed, he has a poignant sensitiveness, but also a passivity that might upset people. He doesn’t fight, but cry, and yet, he is able, in the future, to kill, clean up blood, and is capable of manipulation. However, revenge is not his motif. Then what is?
The softness of Animal Kingdom mixed with the powerfulness of Henry: portrait of a serial killer; Snowtown Murders, provided disturbing scenes, but not only graphically but, especially, in what it leaves us to imagine, and think about. The movie has this strong aptitude of making you uncomfortable, even though you don’t fully understand why.
Justin Kurzel proved outstanding capacities, and potential in this first movie and made us crave for his future ones.