KILLING GROUND (2016)
Directed by Damien Power
Written by Damien Power
Starring Harriet Dyer, Tiarnie Coupland, Aaron Pedersen, Maya Stange, Stephen Hunter, Aaron Glenane, Ian Meadows, Mitzi Ruhlmann, Airlie Dodds, Julian Garner, Tara Jade Borg, Mark Gadaleta, Michael Knott, Liam Parkes, Riley Parkes
While KILLING GROUND treads on familiar territory, some creative twists to the narrative and some solid performances make it worth delving into.
The film begins following an engaged couple happy and planning to go on a dream camping trip in the outback. After stopping for directions, they find the perfect camping spot with only one other tent in the vicinity. Meanwhile, over in the other tent, a family happily goes about their business. Neither party knows that there are a pair of hunters in the woods looking for human prey.
If you’ve seen WOLF CREEK, you know better than to go camping in the outback. And that’s pretty much the same message these scurvy hunters are trying to communicate to those seeking outdoors adventures in this film. But what makes the film feel different is the way it is set up. Without revealing too much, director Damien Power plays around with the timeline here. So the film really is two simultaneous stories going on at once. Interlocking these two stories is where the nuance of the film really shines as it isn’t clear that the story jumps around in time until it’s too late. This makes KILLING GROUND one of the more unpredictable and surprising wilderness survival films I’ve seen in a while.
I also appreciate the level of real violence going on here. Because the hunters are so bloodthirsty and reactionary, it really feels that the conventional rules of horror films don’t apply to this one and everyone—even the young toddler in the group, is in real danger. Those with small children might be gritting their teeth towards the scenes where a toddler is left to fend for himself in the middle of the forest and while there is nothing gratuitous that happens to him, it still is more ballsy than most stuff you see in mainstream films. The violence level is quite high with KILLING GROUND as it lives up to its name in spades. Again, there’s a gritty and unpredictable nature that most films simply don’t have.
So while the setting and scurviness of the baddies are going to feel very WOLF CREEK/MAD MAX-y, the dangerous feel to KILLING GROUND and the twiddling Powers does with the story makes this one stand out from the pack.