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Killing Ground

Killing Ground: A Violent, Brutal But Brilliant Slow-Burn Thriller

  • Aaron PedersenStephen Hunter...
  • Thriller
  • Damien Power
reviewed by
Marija Djurovic
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Killing Ground: A Violent, Brutal But Brilliant Slow-Burn Thriller

Though not exactly original, there is something disturbingly eerie – and dare we say real – about Damien Power’s Aussie-set thriller, Killing Ground. Set against a beautiful, rural Australian backdrop, the tension runs high and deep in this latest survival tale, which, despite a few minor setbacks, manages to deliver a decidedly powerful, violent and brutal B-movie entertainment.

The story follows a young couple, Ian (Meadows) and Sam (Dyer), who have decided to head off for a quick New Year’s romantic getaway to a remote lake on the outskirts of Sydney that Ian visited as a child. Seeing that another camping tent, which sits completely unoccupied, has been set up nearby, they are disappointed to see that they are not alone. Although determined not to let their ‘neighbours’ spoil their fun, they begin to worry as night falls and their fellow campers still haven’t returned.  


Meanwhile, the audience is introduced to two locals, German (Pedersen) and his side-kick Chook (Glenane), who like to spend their days leering at young girls. Also, a family of four is introduced; father Rob (Garner), mom Margaret (Strange), their teenage daughter, Em (Coupland), and toddler (played by twins Parkes), who are later revealed as the family that once occupied that vacant tent.

Focusing back on the couple, who, during a walk in the woods, stumble upon a startling discovery that crosses their paths with German and Chook, resulting in a harrowing and an excessively brutal game of cat and mouse through the Australian woodlands.

Told through non-linear timelines, Killing Ground, is definitely not fresh in terms of story material, but is smart enough to allow the audience to get to know its characters – whether good or bad – consuming enough time and space to emotionally connect to them and their predicaments.

While the fate of the missing family is revealed early on, using superbly-edited flashbacks, it doesn’t really dampen the suspense of the story. On the contrary, it only adds to the anticipation of knowing what awaits next. Similarly, the violence portrayed is brutal and director, Damien Power, although restrained enough not to make it too overpowering, keeps the cruelty very much alive without directly depicting it on screen.

There are some moments in the story’s third act, where the plot becomes a little bit chaotic in terms of characters and their choices. However, that’s a minor setback and it doesn’t take away from the experience as Power ensures that the ending of the story, which is told through a slow-burn build-up and a confidently restrained approach, is truly well deserved.  

Like This? Try

Wolf Creek (2005), Long Weekend (1978), Wake in Fright (1971)

360 Tip

Director Damien Power’s other work includes, Peekaboo (2011); a 10 minute short about a toddler that goes missing in the park and Boot (2012); another 10 minute short that talks about how a good time can very quickly turn into a tragedy.                                                                                                                    

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