Has anyone seen Eden Lake (2008)? It is that British movie starring Kelly Reilly and Michael Fassbender going on a camping trip by the lake and getting assaulted by a group of twisted teenagers who turn their love escape into a terrible nightmare.
Well, Killing Ground, written and directed by Damien Power, is the Australian counterpart of Eden Lake, although better executed and acted than the already very good English film.
By the clever usage of non-linear storytelling, Killing Ground tells the story of a couple who go to a remote location to find peace and spend a nice weekend away from the civilisation. Soon their expectations will be let down and they’ll find themselves immersed into a mortal hunt-and-pray game where the odds are extremely adverse.
Simultaneously, though, the movie tells another story, which happened before the main one.
Other than the particular technique utilised to tell the events (never left to exposition, instead always for the viewer to figure out), Killing Ground is a straightforward horror thriller which runs for 89 minutes without a single dull moment or a sequence that makes you feel relieved.
Everything but pretentious, this flick is a pure adrenaline ride filled with compelling characters (villains included), drama, action and an overall sense of dread and tension.
The biggest achievement Mr Power reached in this movie consists of the ability to give a new look to something we have seen before tons of times.
The direction is immaculate. The editing, only external interference to the story, perfectly connects the two storylines and is refreshingly clean and subtle. The soundtrack – or I better say lack thereof – is barely noticeable but fully part of the story development.
Yet, the restraint location and limited use of actors makes for compelling characters in Killing Ground. Every single one of them is well-rounded and, pleasantly surprising, none of them is formulaic.
Shot entirely on location, the movie doesn’t use CGI throughout the entire runtime. The practicality behind every special effect cooperates to create a greedy atmosphere, despite a colourful and vivacious cinematography.
I found myself looking in pure delight at the lack of black and white in this film: the good guys are not heroes and the villains (although fairly depicted as sadistic psychopaths) appear normal to the rest of the community and, therefore, to the audience in the scenes where they are dealing with other people.
Unapologetic without being gruesome or needing to show extreme violence on the screen, Killing Ground ends with a blast. The grand finale is, indeed, very fulfilling (something I experienced only with Get Out this year) and profound enough to make you reflect upon it for a while.
Killing Ground is a film that tells a story we’ve seen tons of time, but it does it including an unconventional form of storytelling and clever twists every here and there, proving that a movie can be (incredibly) good without overturning schemes.
With Killing Ground, Australia proves once again to be a fertile ground (sorry about the pan!) for great horror entertainment. I honestly can’t wait to see what Damien Power will come up with next. Meanwhile, I strongly recommend to watch this film, one of the best I’ve seen the whole year. Cheers!