Quint on the hardcore modern day Aussie revenge western RED HILL from Fantastic Fest 2010!!!
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with another little review of a Fantastic Fest movie, this time a modern day Western with a slight supernatural tinge called RED HILL.
It’s an Australian genre movie, so you know what that means! That’s right, there’s at least one death by boomerang! Oh, and there’s some car stunts, too. Naturally.
But oddly enough there’s more horseback riding than car work. Writer/Director Patrick Hughes set out to make this film as much of a western as he possibly could and it shows. John Carpenter is also famous for repurposing Western formulas in a modern setting (famously structuring his great ASSUALT ON PRECINCT 13 on RIO BRAVO), but I think Hughes is taking his love of westerns slightly further than Carpenter ever did.
It’s possible location has a lot to do with that since Australia is a little more malleable a setting than, say, Los Angeles, but when you consider just how much western iconography makes it into this movie it’s pretty clear the setting isn’t the only factor.
The film follows True Blood’s Ryan Kwanten as a young constable recently transferred to the small town of Red Hill in the mountains of Australia with his pregnant wife (played by the utterly adorable Claire van der Boom from the great Aussie noir The Square).
At first the film plays like a fish out of water story as Kwanten assimilates into this new group. There are a few nice guys, but for the most part it’s a tight knit circle of Australian men’s men led by Steve Bisley (Mad Max).
But when a brutal murderer escapes from a distant prison the law in the town turn immediately prepare for lock down, sure that the scarred Jimmy Conway (Tommy Lewis of THE CHANT OF JIMMIE BLACKSMITH fame) is coming for them.
Of course, this guy is a scary-looking dude with a horrible burn scar covering half his face, which itself is usually shadowed by his hat. Decked out in a duster, bandolier and stubby shotgun this dude does show up, prepared to wreck havoc on this tiny town.
The interesting thing about this film is how it challenges your perception of good and evil. When you see a mug like this…
shooting up a small town’s law enforcement after escaping from prison you expect him to be a straight evil character, especially with the western backdrop. For the longest time what you saw was what you got with westerns. The good guy was in the white hat, bad guy in black.
Here not so much. The more you get into the movie the clearer it becomes that the scary dude might not be the worst guy on the screen and poor likeable Ryan Kwanten is caught in the middle.
I can’t really speak to the photography because they played the film off of digibeta and it was hard to tell that it was shot on 35mm. It was clear that a lot of time went into the look of the film, but the digital artifacting was pretty evident.
You look at the trailer (embedded below) and you’ll see it’s a really pretty looking movie, so I can imagine director Patrick Hughes was cringing through the screening.
All the performances are great and Hughes really seemed to go out of his way to find great faces, another Western staple.
Red Hill isn't flawless. There's a supernatural subplot involving a panther that either needed to be fleshed out a little more or dropped and the beautiful Claire van der Boom only has two scenes in the movie, but the flick has it where it counts including an exceptional performance by Tommy Lewis.
Sony picked up the flick, so you’ll probably get a chance to see it. It’s an easy recommend, feeling like the kind of genre flick we used to get all the time in the ‘80s. It’s not goofy or campy like you immediately think of when thinking of ‘80s genre flicks, but it has more of a Paul Schrader edge and grit to it.
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Sept. 26, 2010, 5:22 p.m. CST
Sept. 26, 2010, 5:38 p.m. CST
thanks for putting it on my radar, Quint!
Sept. 26, 2010, 6:21 p.m. CST
Just review it you hack cunt fuck.
Sept. 26, 2010, 6:43 p.m. CST
plays into the same ole cliche.
Sept. 26, 2010, 8:09 p.m. CST
Nice to see Steve Bisley in this
Sept. 26, 2010, 8:25 p.m. CST
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Sept. 26, 2010, 8:29 p.m. CST
He seems like such a docile, befuddled pretty boy on True Blood.
Sept. 26, 2010, 8:38 p.m. CST
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Sept. 26, 2010, 10:30 p.m. CST
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Sept. 26, 2010, 10:36 p.m. CST
Dammit, I thought the media slobbered all over her?
Sept. 27, 2010, 2:28 a.m. CST
...it's not made by a bunch of goddamned idiots.<p>Looks good, and it's neat to see Steve Bisley - I haven't seen him since Mad Max.
Sept. 27, 2010, 12:43 p.m. CST
by King Sweyn Forkbeard
Aussie crime/revenge western? No chance I'm missing this.