Suburban Mayhem

I’m sure this film is going to get a lot of mixed reviews, much like the opening night film, 2:37. It’s very, well, different, and very controversial. 19-year-old Katrina is stuck in boring suburbia, still living at home with her divorced father and for her toddler daughter, although her devoted stoner boyfriend looks after the child most of the time. When Katrina’s brother Danny is sent to jail for life, after committing one of the most stupid crimes I’ve ever seen, she is devastated and will do absolutely anything to get her brother out. She decides that she needs money for an appeal, but having never worked a day in her life, and knowing that her father’s not going to help her financially, she has to think outside the box. Her solution: she must kill her father as she’s first in line for the family inheritance. She’s too lazy to do it herself, so she will have to convince one of her many boyfriends to do the job for her, but luckily she’s never had any trouble getting men to do what she wants. This film takes sibling devotion and support to a totally new and disturbing level.

Starting out as a dark comedy, this film basically turns pitch black by the end. Katrina really is the devil. She has absolutely no redeeming features and no moral boundaries. She will literally do anything to get what she wants, and we can only just sit there are watch in amazement as she succeeds. This film is really like watching a train crash. You feel disgusted and revolted, yet you know there’s nothing you can do about it and simply can’t turn away. It really is a horrible film to watch, yet at the same time, exciting and hilarious. You just watch in disbelief as some really wrong stuff just happens on screen.

The acting in this film is fantastic. The woman who plays Katrina has done a truly amazing job. This is one scary character. She’s aggressive, arrogant, pushy, cocky, sexy, loud, cheeky, and basically, just pure evil. Emily Barclay plays her perfectly. She’s the whole reason the film works. The rest of the acting was done quite well, although you’re too busy trying to understand Katrina to pay to much attention to the others. They’re basically just your stereotypical boring suburban drifters. I did think Robert (the local copper) did do a great job though, and was very convincing in his role. Katrina’s father felt kind of shallow, but I think that helped the storyline and added to Katrina’s motivations. Katrina’s neighbour is a highlight, and delivers some of the funniest lines of the film.

Technically speaking, the film didn’t have the highest of production values. The footage was kind of bland and dull, and I really hated the computer graphics used in the opening sequence (the mail symbol flying through the air). Although the concept was quite good, visually, it just looked cheap and nasty. However, I did really like the title sequence, with the predictive text effect. It suited the whole suburban idea quite well, as mobile phone reliance is a fact of life in Katrina’s world. The sound was also pretty average, much like watching an episode of Neighbours or Home & Away. However, as the film is set in suburbia, the filmmakers could get away with saying it was intentional. The soundtrack/score was very appropriate (although I’m not the hugest fan of that style of music), and reminded me of the songs that blast out of the cars driving through suburban streets.

The structure of the film is very effective, shifting in time, through a series of real-time interviews, flashbacks and testimonies. By using this technique, the film has an added degree of energy and suspense. The story is told from many different perspectives, ranging from the local cop, small town gossip, friends, family, Katrina’s boyfriend and her many, many lovers. Although every one in the town is scared to death of Katrina, she’s basically a celebrity and everyone has a story to tell about her. In fact, it’s safe to say, most of the male population has probably slept with her.
Overall, as I’ve said, this is a really disturbing film about a world of sex, crime, youth culture and, as the title suggests, suburban mayhem. It’s about a girl without a conscience in a world without morals. You basically have to strap yourself in, and go for the ride as Katrina hoons around her small town, doing donuts, sleeping around, and generally making everyone’s life a living hell. But at least there’s never a dull moment in Katrina’s life (although I’m sure she doesn’t feel that way)! This is a film about a family that gets destroyed, and a daughter who literally gets away with murder. She does so many appalling things, and yet by the end of the film, despite all the horrific events that have happened, things are looking good in Katrina’s world – it’s disgusting. You really feel bad watching a girl you can’t help to despise, achieving fame and fortune by doing all the wrong things. This is a seriously rude, dark and sexy film, that will make you laugh and will make you cringe. But one of the best aspects of the film, much like 2:37, is that when you leave the theatre, your head is full of unanswered questions. Why is Katrina the way she is? Why is she so driven and so unrepentant? Is it simply a matter of brother and sisterly love, or is something else going on? For the record, I think maybe the brother is the father of her child. But I guess I’ll never find out. Finally, this quote sums up the movie best: “I knew the grandmother, she was mad. I knew the mother, she was madder. It’s genetics I reckon, that’s the only thing I can come up with. You can’t get clean water from a dirty tank”. Despite all its faults – this is a film you much watch, even if you decide you hate it.