The Snowtown Murders
by Caress Thirus
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Not many things are as twisted, disturbing, and debilitating as murder. The Snowtown Murders chronicles the case of the same name. From 1992-1999, John Bunting and his crew lived on the low and took the lives of nearly a dozen men in Australia, all of which Bunting disliked for a personal reason. Though grisly and authentic, the film really has no spark.
The beginning of The Snowtown Murders focuses on Elizabeth Vlassakis and her three sons. They appear to be a down-on-their-luck crew with nothing and no one to depend on but each other, their few oddball friends, and their Christian faith.
Enter John Bunting. He’s a complex man whom the Vlassakises are slow to trust, but become attached to, thus altering the future of their lives.
Though each character is complex, viewers might find it hard to care about them. There’s a certain distant characteristic to this film; it doesn’t feel relatable at all. Another problem is that the film doesn’t seem to know what to do with itself. It doesn’t really have an identity until about halfway through, when we discover just how savage Bunting really is. At the start it appears to be a film more about the eldest Vlassakis, James. There is some golden acting featured in this film; if only the film itself were better.
Toward the end of The Snowtown Murders, there is definitely an intensity that grows as time progresses. The characters become incr5easingly strange and introverted, not sure if they can still trust each other, but remaining close in sort of a captive way, afraid to be alone again. We see Bunting teach James Vlassakis how to adopt the personality of a killer, treating the work like business, but not taking it too seriously. Bunting’s disturbing performance is brilliant but also disappointing because of the film’s many weaknesses.
The conclusion? Maybe the filmmaker wanted to portray murder in the most horrendous way possible. Though poor, abused, and misunderstood, James still can’t stomach the idea of murder, but somehow can’t resist this odd friendship/captive situation Bunting is insinuating. Anger is like a poison that burns in the bones and often causes people to do brash things they regret, but how far do they go before they decide to draw that line in the sand? Even Bunting had a means of “justifying” his crimes: he only killed people whom he felt deserved to die.
Ignorance us bliss, but knowledge is power. There are several cringeworthy moments that will excite any horror movie fan in The Snowtown Murders, but its weaknesses don’t really make it a worthwhile watch.
The movie doesn’t even really have a solid end; it just closes, and a text screen appears explaining what ultimately happened to John bunting and the others involved in the Snowtown murders.
Caress Thirus Caress Thirus is a film lover from Chicago, IL. A recent graduate of Roosevelt University, she enjoys indie films, foreign films, and clever psychological thrillers.
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