MIFF has ‘night shift’ screenings around 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays and tonight I went to my first one. I had booked to see Baskin, a Turkish high-gore horror, but lost my nerve and swapped for the only other screening, Killing Ground. It’s an Australian thriller that will make many a city person afraid to go camping in the bush.
Beautifully shot, we see young spunky couple Ian and Sam head to an isolated river beach to camp. When they get there, there is already a tent pitched but no one around. Still empty the next morning, they realise something is not quite right and decide to go for help. Through an overlapping time line, we are also shown the family who has disappeared and this helps build the tension as we start to realise what has happened.
There are some really well-realised moments in this film. The appearance of the child is beautifully done and the symmetry of the two time lines with the characters, the cars and the perpetrators effectively increases the tension. It is no surprise who the baddies are – this is signalled early on – and their menace is believable. This isn’t the kind of thriller that uses jump scares or tricks, the terror is all too real and mundane. Much of the violence is off-screen but we are left in no doubt about what has happened.
It is a fairly conventional thriller in story arc and resolution but I did like the very ending and the questions it raises. And that’s one gorgeous camping spot.
Bechdel test – pass