Thanks to the Crocodile Dundee films and the likes of Yahoo Serious, the ’80s gave Australian cinema a pretty goofy reputation. American audiences seem to view the continent as one of the most remote places in the world, where individuals happened to also speak English, making it the perfect go-to for outsider stories. Perhaps as a response to this misconception, Australian horror films have been some of the more effective in terms of serial killer stories, whether it be Wolf Creek, The Loved Ones, or Hounds of Love. One of the most recent backwoods serial killer films, Killing Ground, aimed to continue that tradition of terrifying thrillers, but, sadly, is little more than an underwhelming imitator of more successful films from that corner of the world.
Whoa! There’s a baby involved?! This must clearly be EXTREME!
A young couple decides to go camping for the weekend for New Year’s Eve, opting to avoid the traditional celebrations that many people their age engage in, only to be disappointed to find out they aren’t the only ones camping at the location. As we see this couple’s story unfold, we also see the story of the family who will be cohabitating the area with them, leading audiences to wonder how the two stories connect. Luckily, we are given two antagonists who are the stereotypical “creepy guys who spend time in the woods,” who we will learn are the link that ties these stories together. In other words, this deadly duo torments both parties who have chosen to go camping in the wrong part of the woods, leading to the expected cat-and-mouse rigamarole full of capture, escapes, and murders.
Whoa! This killer looks like he’s a real bad boy! Maybe we’ll find out he’s a real sissy? Probably not, though.
It’s hard to pick out specific things that Killing Ground fails to accomplish, with the film being adequately acted and full of sufficient scenes of violence, which might be where the film’s faults lie; Killing Ground merely repeats the formula that other films have managed to pull off more effectively and imbued with freshness in ways Killing Ground could not. Apart from the final scenes, which go in a slightly different direction than one would anticipate, nothing about the film surprises the audience. The killers are exactly who you think they are, the victims undergo exactly the kinds of torture you expect, and there’s no surprising reveal of an interesting backstory to justify the events that occur.
Whoa! Maybe the flashbacks will give us interesting insight into why these events occur! They do not, however.
The film introduces the audience to a disjointed narrative early on, leading you to believe there would be rhyme or reason as to why the story would be told in this way. Sadly, this nonlinear narrative never pays off, other than showcasing just how vile the killers are. Another frustration is that, with other films using the performances of the killers or justification for murder being the chance to make a film stand out from the crowd, Killing Ground didn’t go that route, making the whole film feel like a massive disappointment. Fans of these backwoods slashers might enjoy the competent installment into the subgenre, but for those who were seeking more out of Killing Ground, you’ll find nothing more than a retread of well-worn territory.
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