Saturday, March 26, 2011

Red Hill (2010)

At a glance:
A classic modern-day western with horror overtones, Red Hill brings an Australian backcountry flavor to the genre

Our review (with spoilers):
This modern day Australian western appears to be ultra-conservative – so much so, in fact, that one begins to suspect there will be a major twist. A small town in outback Australia is cold toward young policeman Shane (Ryan Kwanten) who has recently moved from an unnamed big city to provide a more peaceful life for his pregnant wife. But on his first day, he walks into the middle of conflict. The Inspector, played by a scenery-chewing Steve Bisley, is adamant about preserving the old town values like free use of the land, and is against things like new age business nature preserves. The normal, quiet day turns very serious when a convicted murderer breaks out of prison and heads for Red Hill. The locals all know he is coming back for vengeance, so they arm heavily. But this man, an aboriginal tracker, is more than a match for them, and begins killing them one by one.

The aboriginal man never says a word, is horribly scarred, and kills almost everyone he meets, and thus he seems way too evil – almost like a horror movie star. But there is more to the story, and it’s up to Shane to figure it out. The facts are laid out for him a bit too easily in the end – a signed deathbed confession by one of the perpetrators – but there are enough effective moments in the film that we can forgive director Patrick Hughes his occasional wide brush strokes and clich├ęs.

Rating: 2.75 of 4

Other reviewers said:
"If Red Hill isn't quite a classic, it surely is a work of genuine passion for a genre that's unmistakable, and unkillable."
- Marc Savlov (Austin Chronicle)

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