The Snowtown murders shocked a continent during the 90’s when the remains of 8 victims where discovered in barrels of acid found in an abandoned bank building in Snowtown, South Australia.
After much investigation, the linking of some unsolved cases to the psychotic crimes and more murder victims being dug up in a back yard a gang of four people where arrested lead by the charismatic psychopath John Bunting a man who once convicted became Australians most notorious serial killer.
Snowtown, Justin Kurzel’s movie version of the real life events approaches the facts through the sad story of one the youngest of Bunting’s accomplices Jamie Vlassakis played with wide eyed innocence by Lucas Pittaway.
Jamie is a regular teenage boy growing up in the urban decay of an Adelaide suburb living a dull life of semi poverty with his mum and younger brothers. Everything changes when it is discovered that his mother’s boyfriend has been taking photos of him and his siblings naked outraging the local community. But with the police doing nothing it seems there is no justice for the disgusting crimes committed by someone the family had trusted and betrayed them so deeply.
That is until John Bunting (Daniel Henshall) comes along, a man with extreme opinions on paedophilia, homosexuality and drug addiction not afraid to spout his hatred of all of them to anyone who will listen. Rallying the people of the neighbourhood against the threats he see’s all around to normal decent folks John believes it is up to him and his friends to take maters into his own hands against those he sees as the scum of society,
Escalating his actions from bullying tactics to brutal violence and beyond, John appoints himself judge, jury and executioner on a whole host of local degenerates taking Jamie under his wing whether he likes it or not first as a witness and then as a participant.
Brilliantly filmed with an amazing cast of relative unknown actors mostly all newcomers Snowtown is less a real life crime drama and more a grim journey into the corruption of innocence and the loss of childhood to the machinations of a maniac.
Reminiscent of the recent Aussie gangster movie Animal Kingdom or Shane Meadows excellent This Is England in style and content the film is shot with a mix of documentary realism and surreal scenes blending together to craft a highly interesting character driven narrative from the real events.
Deliberately hard going the film pulls no punches in its presentation of the poverty and pain of the people and the horrific murder and torture perpetrated by Bunting and his gang.
Reaming unbiased and unclear in its opinions towards the vigilante justice, violence and victims the movie makes us a passive witness to the events on the outside looking in unable to stop what we see.
Uncomfortable and uncompromising Snowtown will leave you disturbed and distressed after its abrupt ending which offers no answers or excuses to what Bunting or his followers did. Snowtown shows us how easy it is for charismatic leaders to corrupt those around them turning them into killers and that in many cases real life is far scarier than fiction.