Continuing the tradition of brutal Australian horror films like "Wolf Creek," "Killing Ground" is an effective indie creeper that unnerves the audience with its all-too-realistic violence. What's most disturbing here isn't the terror depicted on-screen but the idea that these killings could actually happen. Unlike movies that feature ghosts, zombies or other supernatural forces, these villains — and their victims — are all too human.
Sam (Harriet Dyer) and Ian (Ian Meadows) have driven into the Australian woods for a romantic weekend. They set up their tent on a quiet beach, in sight of another campsite whose residents are nowhere to be seen. Soon, Sam and Ian discover a child wandering the area, covered in blood, and his family inexplicably gone. Their fate soon becomes clear, and Sam and Ian struggle to survive.
"Killing Ground" is the first feature from writer-director Damien Power, but there's no evidence of his inexperience in the final product. His script is more ambitious than that of the average horror film, with a plot structured across different timelines, creating excruciating tension in the process.
The first half of the movie is largely benign, but when the carnage begins, it does not let up. Power smartly avoids exploitative shots of the most disturbing of the killers' acts, but having this violence off camera doesn't make it any easier on the viewer. "Killing Ground" will linger in the minds of the audience, and its ending offers little relief.
Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes
Playing: Arena Cinelounge Sunset, Hollywood