A family friendly camping trip gone wrong is exactly the stuff of nightmares. When newly engaged couple Sam and Ian set out for a romantic New Years Eve weekend in the backwoods of Australia, the last thing they expect is for their trek off the beaten track to become horrific. But that’s exactly the narrative director Damien Powers gives us and in spite of the story’s predictability, Killing Ground still manages to incite a little fear and leave viewers scary-movie satisfied.
It becomes obvious how this film is going to play out relatively quickly. Once we’ve met all the characters it’s pretty easy to assign the labels: victims, bad guys, heroes. When Sam and Ian (Harriet Dyer and Ian Meadows) first arrive at the camping grounds, they notice a neighbouring campsite and aren’t concerned until night falls and no one has yet returned. Realising the suspicious nature of the situation, they set out to find a ranger the next morning but a flat tire prevents them from leaving the bush. Meanwhile, a non-linear story unfolds as we see snapshots of a family at the now abandoned campsite and, in separate scenes, two rough-looking rednecks arguing over a recently transpired “hunting” incident. The pieces immediately fit together when Sam discovers a young boy, clearly dehydrated and in need of care, by the campsite and one of the rednecks, Chook, appears on the scene. Chook suggests that he and Ian make a quick search for the family of the boy, leaving Sam to wait. By the time Chook’s counterpart arrives, we’ve seen the gruesome fate of the family play out in flashbacks and a deadly cat and mouse game ensues with Sam and Ian fighting to escape with their lives.
Writer/Director Powers has done nothing to particularly shock or surprise the viewer but of what he does give us, he does it damn well. Although we’re always aware of where we’re going, he lets us enjoy the ride, revelling in the grindhouse gore and morbid sense of satisfaction that comes from watching a good film of this particular ilk. The villains are adequately terrifying. The victims die a horrific enough death. And our heroes suffer acceptably. The camera work and pace are solid and the non-linear nature of the plot creates enough mystery and suspense to make it interesting. This movie doesn’t deserve particular criticism, yet it doesn’t deserve particular praise either. With Killing Ground our expectations are met. It’s without a doubt an altogether well-made film and a morbidly satisfying watch; it just lacks that bit of magic to make it extraordinary.
Killing Ground is released nationwide on 29th September 2017.
Watch the trailer for Killing Ground here: