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27 Dec 2011


From the opening shot Snowtown will grab hold of you with a grip tight enough to squeeze the life out of you. It's incredibly dark and bleak and at times difficult to watch however in its bleakness there is a beauty in the cinematography and some of the most powerful and impressively natural performances you are ever likely to see.

After the hard-hitting introduction of the horrifying subject matter within the first 7 minutes, the story unfolds like a dark, sinister shadow gradually creeping across the screen. Set in a small Australian town in the late 1990s and based around the impoverished lives of a single mother (Elizabeth played by Louise Harris) and her four sons and, more importantly, the company she keeps. Elizabeth regularly hosts meetings where the discussions focus on the problem of local sex-offenders and the lack of any suitable justice, which is where John comes in. John is the self-styled, self-appointed protector of the community, doling out his own sadistic brand of punishment as he sees fit. At first you may find yourself asking whether or not John (played by Daniel Henshall) is a necessary evil, after-all his arrival in the family unit certainly brings a confident and much needed father figure to the home, someone for the brothers to look up to and learn from. However, before long you realise that the evil he has introduced to Jamie's (Lucas Pittaway) life is in many ways far worse, far more terrifying and far more tortuous than the life he was dealing with prior to John's arrival. 

Many of the graphic and violent scenes are as brutal and realistic as the real-life story the film is based on and the only respite you'll get from the at times sadistic imagery are the stunning and beautiful atmospheric shots, sometimes of the landscape or maybe just a calm evening in front of the television. Particularly striking is the imagery of a pet snake pouncing on, then coiling itself around, its prey, very much like John's all consuming control over his 'family' and friends. 

It's hard to believe Snowtown is based on real life events surrounding the infamous murders in a small Australian town in 1999. The film is unflinching and gruesome in its recollection of what took place and it demands our attention; the cold bleak subjects and settings frame the horrifying narrative perfectly whilst the excellent sad and brutal performances from an astounding cast cement Snowtown rightfully at the top of the critics' lists.

Snowtownis available to preorder and I strongly suggest you do so as it is my official selection for the film of the year.

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