The Snowtown Murders (2011)

Biography, Crime, Drama, History, Mystery
Lucas Pittaway, Daniel Henshall, Louise Harris, Bob Adriaens
Based on true events, 16 year-old Jamie falls in with his mother's new boyfriend and his crowd of self-appointed neighborhood watchmen, a relationship that leads to a spree of torture and murder.
It's a bleak and brutal endurance test, but for viewers with the strength and patience to make it to the end, Snowtown will prove an uncommonly powerful viewing experience.
  • IFC Films Company:
  • Not Rated Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 19 May 2011 Released:
  • 14 Aug 2012 DVD Release:
  • $8.0k Box office:


I don't understand why people are coming down on this film, i thought it was amazing and spectacularly represented the emotions of the people involved rather than the actions. I am glad it didn't go into all the violence into more detail even though i know the real killings were worse than depicted in the film. I think that it was not the intention of the director to have another gory wolf creek serial killer story.

I had not heard any hype about the young actor looking like heath ledger until now but had commented to my partner a few times in the movie how striking the similarity was!

I loved this film and thought it was well directed and have no idea how the actors got through some of those scenes.. well done.
Disturbing and affecting.7/10
It is quite a well crafted film and the concepts it presents are quite disturbing. It shows the killers to be very cold, calculating and generally indifferent in the way the murders unfold.

I don't think it will be a very accessible film for most cinema goers, as the style and tone are very depressing. It is a very simple plot on the surface but the way it presents the characters is sometimes quite confusing, and i found it quite hard to follow who all the characters were and how they were related. It is appropriately photographed, the production design is correctly sparse and bleak and the soundtrack is very effective.
The acting alone makes this film worth watching7/10
One of this year's most talked about films in Australia is 'Snowtown', based on the infamous "Bodies in the Barrels" murders that occurred in Australia in the 90s. Lucas Pittaway plays Jamie Vlassakis, a boy who lives in Snowtown with his mother and brothers. When he befriends John Bunting (Daniel Henshall), a man who has recently moved to the neighbourhood, Jamie's life begins to change...horrifically.

Whilst most of the murders happen off-screen, the film is still a very intense and gritty experience. The film's harsh atmosphere is also well captured thanks to Adam Arkapaw's cinematography. However, what really makes this film so intense are the performances; Henshall is terrifying as John and Pittaway's portrayal of Jamie is able to make audiences easily sympathise with his character.

If you do not know the true story about these infamous murders, then this movie is worth a watch, but the problem with 'Snowtown' is that it does not have much of a storyline. This is because most of the time it is not clear as to who the characters are murdering, let alone why, which can make the film quite confusing.

I wouldn't particularly recommend 'Snowtown' to anyone who wants to see a film with a compelling story but if you want a little bit of insight of what is claimed to be Australia's worst murders, this movie is worth a watch but not essential. With that said though, if I were to recommend this film to anyone, it would be just to see the performances delivered from every single actor - especially Daniel Henshall's - because those alone make 'Snowtown' worth watching.
A movie I can neither recommend nor rate. But acknowledge as film making surpassed by few others.5/10
I have never written a review before - of film, television, book or any other. In fact, I've never written anything.

But having, what I can only describe as, endured "Snowtown" for the longest two hours of my life, I feel compelled to put to paper what an extraordinary accomplishment it is.

On the one hand.

On the other, I damn the director, writer, producer and actors for making it. Or at least, making it so well.

Because if this film had been made badly, it would be forgotten and brushed under the carpet. Instead, it will be revered as a blueprint of all realistic horror, a benchmark to which others will undoubtedly be judged. Which is an accolade that should be nowhere near someone as vile as John Bunting.

This is not your usual movie-goer horror. Save for one never-ending torture scene, there is little gore, blood or screaming. Just empty lives, slowly dissolved by an evil one.

For me, the Saw franchise was aimed at the teen market. And whilst there is no doubt that it is horrifically gory, I don't think I would lose sleep over my teenage child watching it. However, if I discovered my teenage child had watched "Snowtown" I think I would want to spend the next week propped up at the end of their bed, making sure they knew I was there. "Just if you need me."

Following the perspective of 16 year-old Jamie Vlassakis, the film traps you in the room as a silent participator, whilst he is befriended and groomed by Bunting.

By the time it had finished I felt as though I was complicit - that having merely watched had turned me into an accomplice. On more than one occasion I was close to switching it off.

But such is the masterful direction, the suffocatingly silent screams of emotion and need to see whether the boy will escape from the hell he is zombie-footing towards, you feel you owe it to him to ride it out.

Before watching, I knew only one thing about this film - that it was based on a true story. The gaps left in the plot by the director are intimidatingly adept at disorientating you, making you feel as manipulated as the individuals re-shaped at will by the serial killer John Bunting.

The treatment of the murders is so skilfully handled - at times using voice recordings of the victims to tell you that time has passed and the depths of evil he has swum to have increased. At others, using morally numb expressions to warn you of the horrors either being carried out, or to come.

The torture scene itself is abhorrent, yet disturbingly hypnotic. Where I would usually look away, I couldn't and found myself glued to what was unfolding; mentally pleading for it to stop. It, in itself, is a reduced study of everything John Bunting pursued. The acting from both Pittaway and Henshall, in this scene, but not alone, is worthy of any peer or award.

Henshall is magnificent. Charismatic, believable and chilling - initially as an undeniable, albeit ruthless, role model in a town bereft of individuals with self-worth or respect. And latterly unfolding to reveal a cold, blood hungry psychopath.

The stench of death truly is palpable, of both flesh and society. It doesn't make you want to hide behind your sofa, it makes you want to claw at your sofa so that you can curl up and hide inside it.

Recommending this film to your friends would be a bit like recommending hard drugs to them. It may open their eyes - but at what cost? It is something that should not be your choice, you don't need the responsibility.

My final words must go to the director, Justin Kurzel, for whom I understand this to be a directorial debut. I genuinely don't know how. I have watched many films, almost always with an amateur critic's eye, and this ranks up there as one of the most soul trembling films I've seen.

Please turn your hand to action or comedy. I don't think I can face another of this genre from you.
A harrowingly realistic portrayal of torture and murder5/10
Snowtown is probably the most disturbing movie I have ever seen. (Note: To back that statement up, I have watched most so called 'torture-porn' flicks, including hard-edged foreign stuff like Martyrs and Audition.)

Unlike the vast majority of horror films, Snowtown depicts torture and murder in a way that is almost documentary-like - nothing is sensationalized, which makes it all the more horrific. You are essentially a fly-on-the-wall during a real-life murder. The strangulation scene in the bath tub is almost unwatchable - and it seems to go on forever.

I found it incredibly hard to watch and it has seriously shaken me to my core. Cinema is supposed to affect us, and Snowtown certainly did, which is why I've given it 10/10.