a rough first day for Constable Shane Cooper (Ryan Kwanten). He and his
young wife Alice (Claire van der Boom) have just moved to the country
town of Red Hill, in the hope of creating a new life for themselves and
their unborn child. Constable Cooper has lost his firearm in the move,
and after setting out for his first day on the job, he becomes aware
that he doesn't
even know where the local police station is. Nevertheless, he takes a
carefree attitude and a warm smile with him, even if the locals are less
than receptive to his good-natured approach.
just a few hours on this new and remote beat, things take a deadly
serious turn when news hits the town that an escaped criminal, Jimmy
(Tommy Lewis) is out for revenge against the men who put him away. The
town is quickly locked down, with police chief Bill (Steve Bisley) and
his men covering the main routes of approach. Cooper, meanwhile, is sent
to what they think to be the least likely road that the convicted killer
will take. After barely surviving an encounter with the scar-faced
criminal, Cooper hurries back to town, to try to save what is left of it
from the nightmare that has taken over.
the opening shots, this films
character shines through. The rustic strings and faint hints of
didgeridoo make it clear that you couldnt
be anywhere else in the world but Australia. The real hero, at least in
the first part of the film, is the landscape itself. Director Patrick
Hughes and his crew have done a beautiful job of capturing the wide
open spaces and dry, lonely bush. Its
a shame then, that the story fails to reach the same epic heights
achieved with the cinematography.
most of the film the characters and dialogue are believable and slightly
irreverent, in a good quirky sort of way.
when the action starts that holes start to appear. (No pun intended- Im
not talking about bullet holes!) I felt that we werent
given enough background into this cast of characters to care too much
when they died. We get de-sensitised to the violence very early on, as
it is presented in such a bleak and meaningless way. When Jimmy strolls
into the local police station and starts blazing away with his shotgun
both captivating and shocking. But later on, as he tracks down the men
of the town one by one and coldly executes them, it just starts to feel
like random, wanton violence. Okay, another one dead. Good-o. When are
we going to get to the punch line?
shift in character, from caring family-oriented cop to hard-bitten hero,
entirely convincing. His role, as the sunny-faced nice guy from out of
town, is to uncover the truth behind the sudden spate of violence. But
the frequent jumps between Jimmy and Cooper are distracting, and the
movie probably would have benefited by being told from a single point of
the climax, those same rustic strings that gave the opening sequences so
much character are neglected in favour of the lonely horns that we all
recognise from spaghetti westerns.
the root of the problem; this movie desperately wants to be a western,
but it doesnt
know quite how to pull it off.
himself is limited to a single line of dialogue throughout the film.
With half of his face invisible behind a scar, he looks like a true
monster, and his actions match this faηade. Its
exceedingly difficult to care about him or his motivations, because for
most of the film he rides around town, shooting people at point-blank
range with no twitch of emotion visible on his face.
And it has
to be said that the sub-plot about a livestock-killing panther roaming
through the bush is entirely unnecessary to the story.
it starts off with good intentions, great cinematography and a lively
soundtrack, the writing ultimately lets the film down. While certainly
not terrible, Red Hill is an underwhelming experience. Writer/Director
Patrick Hughes has a lot of experience creating short films, and this
probably would have worked better in a shorter format. As it stands,
there isnt enough content to justify the feature-length running time.
While it has some interesting ideas, it ultimately feels like an excuse
for a long and gory shoot-out in a remote country town. With some depth
to the characters and a more focussed approach, it could have been