I remember the days when Australian movies where, well, just plain odd. Most almost made use of the vastness of the country and made their movies bleak.
Killing Ground doesn’t stray to far from these fields, or sand. Sam, Harriet Dyer (Love Child (TV), Down Under), and her boyfriend Ian, Ian Meadows (The Wrong Girl (TV), The Turning) decide to go on a camping trip to some falls.
There, the trip turns into a nightmare as they stumble across a large, empty, orange tent that once housed dad, Julian Garner (Head On, Muriel’s Wedding), mum, Maya Stange (Garage Days, XX/XY), daughter, Tiarnie Coupland (Worst Year Of My Life, Again (TV), Love Child (TV)) and small child.
This family have met their demise and prime suspects are weirdo brothers German, Aaron Pedersen (Goldstone, Jack Irish (TV)) and Chook, Aaron Glenane (Truth, Crushed) who ride around with a three-legged, barking dog.
Killing Ground uses an innovative non-linear story telling method that takes some getting used to. You watch both the couple and the family inhabit the same space but at different times, like some kind of sci-fi movie.
This can be jarring and isn’t easy to grasp at first, particularly as you jump-cut from one to the other, in some instances back-and-forth quickly.
Writer/director Damien Power (Boot (short), A Burning Thing (short)) directs well and I can see the intention of using this format, to build tension, to grip you.
However, Killing Ground suffers from some issues right from off the bat. I should warn you, there may be spoilers ahead.
The first issue is that of pace, Killing Ground is slow, painfully slow. It takes an age to establish itself and yet (second problem) you won’t give two-hoots about anyone, good or bad, as they are wafer thin characters.
Then we have the start, in which we are supposed to believe that a couple setup camp just a few yards from another tent and yet make no attempts to go over and say hello? This isn’t a camping field, this is supposedly a remote area, a small, remote area. Yet they just ignore the big orange tent.
Finally, we get to the usual cliché problems we’ve been seeing a lot recently. Someone gets the jump on the guy with the gun, pushes him over, but doesn’t grab the gun off him, just runs away. This, despite the fact he’s just seen him shoot someone.
Or the woman who slashes a man on the arm, but then doesn’t do anything else to him, electing instead to run away. Whilst said man wraps his shirt around the wound and unleashes the dog after her.
If you get the jump on someone with a dog, or someone with a dog and gun, someone who has shown they mean to harm you. May I suggest you incapacitate them in some way? Not just run away, particularly if they have a dog.
Killing Ground definitely had potential, the non-linear story telling is there to be fleshed out. However, in the end, it’s a horror-lite film (more gore than horror, not scary at all in fact) that suffers because it feels like the makers where in two minds as to its direction and a lacklustre ending.
Killing Ground is available on digital download and in cinemas on the 29th September 2017.