Killing Ground Movie Review
Written by Daniel Evans
Released by Vertigo Releasing
Written and directed by Damien Power
2016, 88 minutes, 15 (UK)
UK theatrical/VOD release on 29th September 2017
Harriet Dyer as Sam
Mitzi Ruhlmann as Vicki
Tiarnie Coupland as Em
Aaron Pedersen as German
Ian Meadows as Ian
Not one camping trip in cinema history has ever gone smoothly, and the two that feature in Killing Ground are no exception, in-fact the only thing that doesn’t go without a hitch, but which would normally strike fear into the hearts of the inexperienced camper, is the seamless erection of the tent. Killing Ground is the latest film which firmly hammers its pegs into the same unhallowed ground as other Aussie survival horrors, such as Wolf Creek.
Ian (Ian Meadows) and Sam (Harriet Dyer) are the kind of sickeningly sweet, completely enveloped in each other’s love, kind of couple, who are destined to be slaughtered. Their trip to a secluded camping spot has its first minor setback in that they seem to be sharing their sheltered romantic retreat with a few other people, but upon closer inspection the tent is abandoned, naturally they ponder the whereabouts of the inhabitants of the neighbouring structure and we are transported back, where we see the circumstances leading up to their disappearance. We are now introduced to parents Margaret (Maya Strange) and Rob (Julian Garner) and their two kids, whose story now weaves between that of Ian and Sam as we see them all fall victim to a couple of leering, deeply unpleasant rednecks.
After a steadily paced introduction of countryside ramblings, we soon see the horrors that the back woods degenerates have in store for these people, and the mayhem soon unravels disturbingly quickly. Obviously its main talking point is that this is no undead wild killer stalking through the bush picking these people off, but two, bedraggled, but relatively normal looking humans. Its message is that anyone could find themselves in this sticky predicament, subject to Last House on the Left-style cruelty and the pawn in any sicko’s sadistic games. The beautiful locations and scenery is in stark contrast to the ugly goings on, and Australian films really do bleak and depressing like no other (e.g. the catastrophically oppressive Snowtown and the ABBA bulging gloom-fest Muriel’s Wedding), whilst not in Snowtown’s league in terms of brutality, this sure does ramp up the agony at certain points. The two plotlines running parallel and out of sync shows enthusiasm from first time director Damien Power, but the acting from Meadows and Dyer doesn’t quite elevate the film out of basic stalk and slash, although the rednecks are gross without ever becoming caricatures. It doesn’t offer much in the way of innovation in the genre, but it’s still a gruelling experience, and if you find the horrors of trying to pitch a tent too much to handle, then this film pleasingly avoids such chilling scenes.
Also the rednecks dog’s name is Banjo...a reference to the king of all survival thrillers Deliverance maybe?