Title: Killing Ground (Fantasia 2017 review)

Also known as:

Year: 2016

Genre: Horror / Thriller

Language: English

Runtime: 88 min

Director: Damien Power

Writer: Damien Power

IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4728386/

When a couple goes camping only to notice that the campers next to them never return they start to worry. The couple soon find out that the campers are dead, and they are next.

Our thoughts:
Damien Power makes use of the classic horror subgenres of camper slashers and hillbilly horror to create his debut feature "Killing Ground", which has been playing a few festivals and most recently Fantasia International Film Festival. For better or worse, "Killing Ground" stays true to what you expect from the type (but with an Australian take on it).

Life seems to be as good as it can be for Samantha and Ian when they go camping out in the Australian bush. A local informs them that the place they are going to is hard to get to, and suggests a different area nearby. As they arrive on what seems like a good camping spot, they notice someone else has put up their tent there, but Sam and Ian decide to stay there anyway. Later on, when they notice that the campers haven't returned, they get worried. Meanwhile, the audience gets to see what happened to them. The movie jumps back and forth between the campers meeting their fate, and Sam and Ian looking for them. Things take a turn for the more serious when Sam finds a little toddler on the ground. It doesn't take long until the perpetrators come back, and Sam and Ian are forced to fight for their lives.

As you might have noticed, the plot "Killing Ground" is nothing out of the ordinary. Unfortunately the movie doesn't stand out that much and it's largely predictable because of it. You pretty much know what to expect in most situations. Luckily there are a few moments that I thought worked well. One thing is the addition of the toddler. It brings a suspense that probably wouldn't have been there otherwise. The second thing is that we jump between now and then. At first it was a little confusing that the movie wasn't completely linear, but once you got used to the thought of the scenes with Sam and Iam being in the present and the scenes with the other family are in the past, it worked surprisingly well in building up the situation. I just wish that the situation itself would have been something more unusual, as we've all seen a ton of backwoods/hillbilly/home invasion-esque horror movies. The final thing that really stood out and worked well is something that plays a part in the ending so I don't want to spoil it, but it shows a bit more of thought put into the lead character's choices.

The sleazy redneck-y bad guys trope has been worn out in horror, and except for a few nuances in acting these do pretty much what they "usually do". Aaron Pedersen and Aaron Glenane do add some human touches to the bad guys that help sell what they do, but largely it's the same old. The movie still manages to bring some tense moments and it's definitely not a bad movie. If you have a hard time watching sleazy people do mean and... well, sleazy things to people, then this will be effective. It never goes quite as far as the cult classic exploitation flicks of the '70s, and that's probably for the better in this case.

Damien Power proves himself to be a good writer and director, even if his idea here isn't new. Unfortunately I have gone through so many movies of this kind that I find it hard to be overly excited about it when it stays relatively safe. It has a few things that aren't part of the norm, and despite being non-linear it's not enough to elevate the movie from being anything other than "another one of these". Hopefully Damien Power will take bigger risks in the future, because everything else about the movie is rock solid. It's certainly not some poorly made trash flick, and much of the main cast do a great job (Harriet Dyer as Sam and the bad guy duo especially). Perhaps this movie is right up your alley, and in that case I think you will be pleased. It's not bad at all, it has just been done to death.

Positive things:
- A great group of actors.
- An overall well made debut feature.
- Small additions that I mention in the review were especially good.
Negative things:
- It's exactly what you expect it to be despite some small attempt to differentiate itself.

Gore: 1/5
Nudity: 0/5
Story: 2/5
Effects: 3/5
Comedy: 1/5

We watched this movie thanks to:
Fantasia International Film Festival 2017

Reviewed by:


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