Killing Ground (2016)

July 17, 2017 - 9:34pm | Ryan Tutolo

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Damien Power
Harriet Dyer, Tiarnie Coupland, Aaron Pedersen

There are lots of tropes and rules in horror movies. Don’t go swimming alone when there’s a shark around, don’t go have sex in the woods, and most importantly...never go on vacation in Australia. Killing Ground tells the story of a young couple out for a romantic getaway in the Australian wilderness. As you would expect, things don’t exactly go as planned. They find an abandoned camp right next to them and throughout the movie we learn of the fate of the missing campers. The situation goes from bad to worse as two Aussie hillbillies decide to terrify and torture our young couple, and they’ll have to use their wits and resourcefulness to survive the camping trip.

I enjoyed the actors in this movie. They all had pretty good chemistry and the two hillbillies (played by Aaron Pederson and Aaron Glenade) were really stand-outs in this. Killing Ground is heavy in the realism, there’s no exaggeration in the deaths or interactions of anyone here. Having realistic characters is a breath of fresh air but that’s not to say that everything is peaches and cream in this...or whatever Australians prefer, kangaroo meat and Vegemite.

The story unfolds in a non-linear fashion. The first time it happens is super confusing as you really don’t know what’s happening or when it’s happening. At one point the young couple is wondering where the missing tent campers are and in the very next scene, the campers are sitting in their tent making dinner. After a while you settle into the movie’s pattern of showing one clip from the past and one from the present. Once the “past” scenes are all explained the movie moves forward in a traditional fashion but the jarring back and forth takes some getting used to.

Unfortunately, the films also drags a little bit as some scenes take longer to play out than necessary. Despite only being 88 minutes, the story seems to take forever to get going. Some tighter editing could really make things move faster and keep the viewer more engaged, but I understand that cutting the runtime any more has its own detriments. Another negative is the “helpful stranger” trope that is employed in the beginning. It’s more than obvious that the guy that gives directions to the couple in the very beginning of the movie is sure to be attacking them later in the movie. This type of predictable storytelling gets old. It’s also similar to another Australian killer movie, Wolf Creek. Also, our male lead is apparently mechanically challenged as he can’t seem to get his shit together and change a damn tire. He even know how to do this, it seems, but can’t manage to loosen the lug nuts. This had me calling out at the screen “Are you freaking kidding me...this guy can’t loosen a nut?!”

There’s also some horror taboos that could potentially make some viewers uncomfortable. There are multiple rapes (though the movie focuses more on the after-math than the act itself) and even a very young child being injured. Truly no one is safe in Killing Ground and depending on the viewer can be either a positive or negative. The filmmakers really try to make the viewer uncomfortable and in that endeavor they are surprisingly successful.

Killing Ground is an Australian thriller with roots in classics like Last House on the Left. While the movie is tense, the dragged out pace and confusing non-linear storytelling both bring it down. Watch it only if you’re craving some Australian accents.

Author Information

Ryan Tutolo's picture
Ryan Tutolo is a horror movie lover and host of the UHM Podcast. Follow him on Twitter and let him know why his reviews suck!




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