Directed By Patrick Hughes
Starring Ryan Kwanten, Steve Bisley, Tom E. Lewis and Claire Van Der Boom
Australia is really becoming a cinematic force to be reckoned with of late. After proving they could deliver film noir (The Square), crime dramas (Animal Kingdom) and summer blockbusters (Tomorrow, When The War Began) with the best of them, Aussie writer/director Patrick Hughes delivers the same Down-Under magic with Red Hill. Like a horror movie wearing a stetson and spurs, Hughes’ feature-length debut takes the modern-day western spirit of Walter Hill and fuses it with the lean, mean momentum of a John Carpenter slasher film.
With a baby on the way, young cop Shane Cooper (Ryan Kwanten) and his wife Alice (Claire Van Der Boom) leave the stress and chaos of the big city behind to raise their unborn child in the tranquil Australian country town of Red Hill. But, as luck would have it, his first day as a small town Police Constable will prove to be a dangerous struggle for survival as a deadly escaped convict rides into town, hell-bent on taking revenge on the townspeople who wronged him.
As the story unfolds over a single day and night, Hughes paces his revenge western like a steed striding across the outback, introducing its characters slowly and leisurely before galloping into high gear as seemingly unstoppable killer Jimmy Conway (Tom E. Lewis) rolls into the picture. Kwantan is fantastic, exuding quiet, effortless charm and intensity, and he only becomes more likeable and impressive as the night wears on, proving a natural fit for the film’s fresh-faced moral anchor. The Aussie ensemble proves just as capable, too, with Steve Bisley making a memorable impression as Red Hill’s gruff-as-a-chain-smoking-bear sheriff Old Bill, while Tom E. Lewis cuts an imposing presence as the silent, vengeful aborigine tracker. Director Hughes has a keen eye for action, too, and when the explosive second half rolls around, it’s taut, thrilling and bathed in brooding visual flair.
The script might fall afoul of the odd cliché now and then, but Red Hill is a pulpy B-Movie of the highest calibre, deftly blending genre thrills with impeccable style. Aussie director Patrick Hughes is a filmmaking talent to watch out for, and his debut western revenge movie is an impressive cult movie gem.
The DVD that Momentum Pictures kindly sent along for review was a preview copy without extras, so I can’t accurately comment on the final A/V quality or extras, but the special features included on the retail disc are as follows:
Red Hill is out on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK now.
Click here to order the DVD from Amazon.co.uk.