What can I say?
This has to be one of the most disturbing and horrific movies I have watched in a very long time. On a number of occasions I almost shut it down because I was feeling repulsed by what I was watching, yet at the same time I wanted to keep going because it looked like a side of life I need to see more often – if only to know it exists – if only to ask ‘God – what does this mean for a bloke like me?’
The movie overview let’s you know that its going to be a pretty gritty and confronting story – its a depiction of the ‘bodies in barrels’ John Bunting – serial killer story. But it doesn’t prepare you for the utterly depressing and despairing life of the people whose story it tells.
I’m not much a fan of ugly movies – movies that wallow in their own nastiness – and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this one, but there is no question it achieves what it set out to do. It depicts the squalor and hopelessness of underclass Australian life. It captures brilliantly the look and voice of people for whom hope vanished long ago and it doesn’t finish with any light. It just digs a very deep hole and then slumps in it.
As a summary it looks at the life of one family in a depressed Adelaide suburb. Mum is a druggie and the kids have that ‘lost’ look about them. Her boyfriend sexually abuses them and then along comes Bunting who takes on the role of patriarch to the family. He seems to bring positivity, energy and hope, but the more they get to know him, the more they find themselves implicated in his sadistic and violent life.
Bunting is Australia’s worst serial killer and his story was one I was unaware of until I saw the movie. As you watch you see his evil gradually unfold and while you want to bow out you can’t help wondering where its all going.
As a movie I’d have to say it is brilliant at doing what it does – telling a vicious and terrible story and leaving you smeared with the ugliness of it. The characters are believable, the slice of Australian life it depicts is real and perhaps the question it left me with was ‘what hope is there for people in this place?’
There are some familiar looking church scenes where we see the family part of a working class church community and obviously looking for hope and support. They get it to a degree but the lines are so blurred between church and community that their hope gets mired in the depravity of their culture and as a result lost altogether.
So – be warned – its not a pretty movie and while most of the murders are implied rather than acted there is one brutal strangulation scene that I will be happy to never see again.
What’s the point?
Maybe just to tell a story… Maybe to say ‘this happens – its real.’ I find myself looking at the lives of the characters and realising that they aren’t a caricature. Rather they are one part of Australian society – a dark and depressing part – but a part that is all too real and in need of some genuine hope.
If I get beyond revulsion I find myself wondering ‘how do these people find hope? How do they encounter the gospel and then what?… In such broken lives how do they right the ship and move ahead?’
Is there really hope for everyone? I want to say ‘yes’, but I’m finding it hard.