The film largely follows Jamie (Lucas Pittaway), a 16 year old victim of sexual abuse. John becomes a father figure to him and his brothers, strict but caring. Jamie is slowly introduced to the brutal murders being committed, and eventual begins to take an active role.
The performances are all excellent. Daniel Henshall as John Bunting impressed me in particular. He is quietly charismatic and powerful. The role could have easily fallen into a ‘Norman Bates’ trap, but John is a fully rounded character here, which makes the calculating torture and murder of his victims even more horrific.
The location – a depressed are of Adelaide – is used very, very well by first-time Director Just Kurzel, being an almost oppressive character in its own right. I also got the sense of them living in a wilderness, despite it being an urban area, without ‘official’ authority figures, left to their own devices. It is portrayed as an environment filled with danger, sexual predators and terrified people – the ideal home for a serial killer to grow.
There are some intense scenes of torture, which have impact due to both the realistic way the film is shot and because the film is based on real events.
Recommended viewing, but not for the squeamish.