Snowtown ★★½

There’s a thin line between creating a pervasive atmosphere and dragging one’s feet, and I think Justin Kurzel, in his debut film, falls on the wrong side of it. This true-crime story of what is apparently Australia’s worst series of serial killings, is told entirely from the perspective of the perpetrators, who acted in a small group. This gambit ensures that Snowtown is exceedingly seedy and capable of taking audiences into a dark place, but I found myself largely undisturbed by it. There’s little effort to focus on psychology here, as the film seems more caught up in procedure. The most surprising moments come as we see these people make a clear demarcation between the evils of, say, child molestation (many of their victims were homosexuals and pederasts) and the apparent acceptability of torturing people to death. Things are definitely not sensationalized here, as events are neither played for thrills nor turned into opportunities for lyricism. This gives Snowtown some hard-earned grit, but perhaps costs it perspective on the events that it depicts.