Killing Ground Movie Review
Written by Nick Ferwerda
Released by IFC Midnight
Written and directed by Damien Power
2016, 88 minutes, Rated R
Released on July 21st, 2017
Harriet Dyer as Sam
Ian Meadows as Ian
Aaron Pederson as German
Stephen Hunter as Chris Armstrong
Maya Hunter as Margaret
Tiarnie Coupland as Em
Damien Power's strong thrilling horror flick Killing Ground makes strides as one of the best horror films of this year. It follows recently engaged couple Ian (Ian Meadows) and Sam (Harriet Dyer) going on a camping trip as they take time to navigate the small town and woodland until they find the perfect spot among the trees on a river's edge.
The couple quickly notice an abandoned camp set up close by and of course they get curious. No one seems to be occupying the site, but Ian and Sam eagerly await the return of the residents and new campsite neighbours. When nobody returns to the vacant tent by the next morning, the two decide to go back to town and report it. This is when the movie takes a turn, when they find their car tires have been slashed. While Sam stays at the car, Ian takes a trip back to the tent to find the appropriate tools to fix the tires. While walking the trail back to the car, Ian find a young child in the woods and the mystery of where the child came from takes the main focus until the movie turns into a suspenseful game of manhunt for the young couple.
What's great about Killing Ground is how writer/director Damien Power takes very standard horror and thriller tropes and turns them into something new and refreshing that is very surprising. It does take a while for this to get started, and it's a little boring towards the beginning, but as the film progresses and we learn more about the characters, it gets a lot more entertaining. It's a slow burn but a good one at that.
Power is very successful in the way he intertwines the two storylines in Killing Ground. He is able to keep the audience asking if this happened in the past or is it happening right now? It's just so gripping and is something a lot of horror completely skips. The way the hunters come about is very reminiscent of some classic horrors like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Horror fans will recognize and appreciate the approach.
Power took on quite a lot with this film considering it is the first feature he has ever written and directed. Luckily, it pays off for him. He was able to bring his vision to life with the help of his talented director of photography, Simon Chapman, who is able to bring the element of fear to life with just the way it's shot.
For his first feature, Power's does a great job bringing these characters to life. The entire cast is absolutely amazing, but a standout is Harriet Dyer, who has the most challenging performance by far. Her character goes through quite a few highs and lows and the range she is able to exhibit is just incredible. Aaron Glenane is another standout. He is able to take the stereotypical crazy gun-wielding hunter character that we've seen countless times before and bring something completely new and unique to the role.
Taking something completely overused and predictable, Damien Power twists it into something the audience won't be expecting. This suspense filled horror is new, refreshing and a must watch for any horror fan.