Making a horror out of a Western isn’t an entirely new idea. Let’s face it, a lot of Western films are pretty horrible anyway as the wild West was a pretty crazy place.
But a horror Western set in Australia? Now that’s something a little different.
It’s easy to think that it would be impossible to topple Wolf Creek from the top of the Australian horror hit-list, but the production team behind this most terrifying of these outback offerings is responsible for Red Hill, a low budget film starring Ryan Kwanten (True Blood, Home and Away).
Kwanten plays Shane, a young policeman who has moved to the country with his pregnant wife to leave behind the stresses of city living.
Red Hill seems like a nice quiet place to settle – and once you get over the fact that horse is the primary method of transport and that (as in all remote towns in movie world) there are some dark secrets lurking – it’s good value for money.
But on his very first day at his new job there is an escape from a local high security jail and panic soon spreads as it is believed that Jimmy, an aboriginal murderer, is coming back to his former home (Red Hill) for some bloody revenge.
As Jimmy rapidly reduces the male population of the area Shane tries to make a good impression on his new boss whilst trying to figure out which of the towns dark secrets he should reveal first.
Red Hill is a nice film. It starts at a canter and is soon galloping with guns blazing, which is just how any self respecting Western should develop.
Kwanten shows that he’s developed a fair bit since his days of playing an obnoxious teenager in Home and Away and supported by the experience of Steve Bisley (Mad Max), it’s a nice earthy Australian affair, with lots of swearing, including the use of ‘wanker’, which isn’t used every day in a Western (this could well be a first).
It is frustrating at times, with the unarmed Shane continually running around town putting his nose where it shouldn’t be. And there is perhaps an excessive amount of cheese present which does sour the taste a little, although only really at the end, and by then you’ll be more concerned about the panther than the cheese (it’ll all make sense when you see it).
There are no “yeee haw’s” but there are plenty of vengeful bullets, big hats and galloping about. More importantly, there’s Jimmy, the stone cold killer who loves to make his enemies suffer.
Red Hill is a solid film with lots to offer, although like Wolf Creek, it doesn’t do the Australian tourism industry any favours. Still a whole lot better than an episode of Home and Away…