The Horror Honeys: The Overlook Film Festival - 'Killing Ground'

The Overlook Film Festival - 'Killing Ground'

An Overlook Film Festival Review with Linnie

Killing Ground (2017)

Damien Power's Killing Ground is the second piece of Australian horror cinema I've seen out of Overlook (after Ben Young's Hounds of Love), and it is the weaker of the two by a wide margin. Where Hounds of Love had something important to say about the nature of violence, Killing Ground feels brutal simply for brutality's sake...

And that is not my bag.

The Story: While on a camping trip, newly engaged couple Ian (Ian Meadows) and Sam (Harriet Dyer) stumble upon the scene of a horrible crime. When the perpetrators return to figure out whether or not their crimes have been discovered, Ian and Sam are forced to fight for their lives. 

If you come to Killing Ground looking for a new spin on the standard "stalk and kill in the Outback" format we often see coming out of Australia, you will be disappointed. Especially because when the film begins, Power's script hints that it may actually provide something unusual. The audience spends an inordinate amount of time with killers German (Aaron Pedersen) and Chook (Aaron Glenane), and while it doesn't make them any more sympathetic, it does provide an interesting twist on a well-trodden formula. But that fascinating introduction, and clever editing in which we are simultaneously told the stories of the villains, Ian and Sam, and the victims of the crime, aren't enough to detract from what comes next.

Killing Ground quickly descends into a pastiche of extreme, and unnecessary, brutality, the sole purpose of which seems to be to upset the audience. Multiple instances of sexual assault, extreme violence against an infant, totally-out-of-left-field animal violence, and torture, come fast and hard, and they do little more than distract from the story. The film has more than established that German and Chook are horrible people; there were plenty of other ways to drive that point home than in the scenes of overwrought exploitation the film resorts to in the third act. 

It doesn't help that, outside of the central family, there aren't any characters to connect to as an anchor through Killing Ground's extreme scenes. While Sam emerges as a third act bad ass, Ian will infuriate any horror aficionado quickly, and choices made by the characters border on sickening, rather than just frustrating. And the film's ending feels downright nihilist, just because it can be. There is no satisfaction to be had in Killing Ground, and in a film this darkly violent, viewers need something to cling to. No such purchase can be found in Power's story.

There is probably an audience for Killing Ground, but it is not me. If you like your films hopeless, senselessly violent, and deeply unpleasant, this will be your favorite movie of 2017. Personally, I am going to try to never think about it again.

Head Honey Rating: 1 lonely dog in the woods out of 5

Viewer Warnings: Killing Ground features scenes of brutal sexual assault, violence against an infant, and animal violence (which has been logged at Day of the Animals). Watch at your own risk.