The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan

"KILLING GROUND"

Killing Ground

There are plenty of scary horror movies based on otherworldly subjects or imaginative concepts. Those that are somehow grounded in the real world have a power no fantastical horror movie can replicate. Killing Ground is a good example. This Australian import from writer/director Damien Power is the kind of raw, gritty story that unsettles you to the point of being uncomfortable. To say this is an easy or entertaining film to watch would be misleading. It is, however, incredibly effective in delivering chills.

There are two separate, but connected plot threads here. The first involves a young couple, Sam (Harriet Dyer) and Ian (Ian Meadows), going camping at a remote beach. After arriving, they stumble across an abandoned tent and a very young unsupervised child. The second thread shows us how the child ended up alone and what happened to the other campers. Both involve two seedy guys trolling around the area, and they eventually merge into one.

The way Killing Ground interweaves its two halves is confusing at first. If you didn't know it was flipping between time frames, you might easily be baffled for the first half hour. Once you get a grip on the structure, the movie becomes harrowing. Power creates a stark vibe that accentuates how isolated the characters are at this beach. He wrings every ounce of dread possible from the story with methodical pacing. You know something awful is coming and you wait nervously to see what it is. When it arrives, it hits as hard as you feared.

There really isn't any larger point to Killing Ground. It doesn't have any great statement to make about violence. To call it mere exploitation would be a disservice, though. The movie is skillfully made, designed to generate tension that continually cranks itself up. On that level, it certainly succeeds. All the weaving back and forth of the plot gives it a sense of artistry, as does the unpredictable nature of what happens. Even if you get an idea of what might be coming and you will the specifics are almost guaranteed to shock you. Perhaps the most compelling, ambitious part is the suggestion that some people become braver than normal in a threatening situation, while others become less brave.

Killing Ground will not be for all audiences. It's pretty brutal, forcing you to imagine yourself in the shoes of the characters. It's also well-made and never anything less than nerve-rattling. All the performances are good, especially the central ones from Dyer and Meadows, helping to create a this-could-really-happen urgency. If you can handle hardcore reality-based horror, buckle up and prepare for a ride that will leave you shaken.

( out of four)


Killing Ground is unrated, but contains adult language, rape, and strong brutal violence. The running time is 1 hour and 28 minutes.


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