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Del Kathryn Barton,
Why does a 19 year-old girl plot to kill her own father? Katrina Skinner is stuck in suburbia with her toddler daughter and her devoted dad. Her brother Danny is in jail for life for murder. Her mother abandoned her years ago. The neighbors are scared of her. The police can't keep up with her. Nobody can control her but everybody's trying. Her dad won't mind his own business. Katrina misses her brother. She needs money for his appeal. She's bored and she's sick of living with her dad. She's not going to work a day in her life and she knows her dad's not going to help her financially anymore. She's first in line for the family inheritance. All she needs to do now is convince one of her lovers to do the deed and she's never had much trouble getting men to do what she wants. All for the love of her brother. It's John Skinner's funeral, inside the Golden Grove Crematorium. Kat sits on the front pew between her cheeky fiancé Rusty and her toddler daughter Bailee. Her mobile phone ... Written by
Nasty, pointless and downright uninteresting at times look at 'quirky' people doing horrible things to one another.
Few films will have you come away feeling as sick as I did from Suburban Mayhem, a putrid and quite vile film about despicable people doing despicable things to one another for the sake of daft entertainment. The film is bad, in that depressing and sickening manner that certain 'bad' films are. This is no guilty pleasure and this certainly isn't a study of anything remotely interesting despite the clear intentions it has. What else can you say about a film that brutally murders off the one, decent character whom tries to help others and then resorts to having its lead characters conform to horrific acts of animal cruelty for good measure?
The film centers on a female youth named Katrina (Barclay) and like the hurricane of her namesake, this little monster whirls bucket loads of chaos as she whirls around the general area causing havoc. Katrina has achieved what little ambition she has very early on in the film: her face on newspapers and her figure on television it's a celebrity status through horrific acts that someone like Charles Manson might know all about but the thing that's more agitating is its obvious reek of Natural Born Killers and how Suburban Mayhem uses the distorted television perspective complete with 'the guilty' speaking into a camera in a mock interview set up isn't that a clicé yet? If not, why not I hate the convention and I hate how it makes people that do it feel clever because it 'breaks the fourth wall' and that's so 'out there' when it comes to mainstream cinema. You're not fooling anyone.
So the film revolves around Katrina and we see her story told to us in flashback format. Now, the term anti-hero is one that springs to mind here but I'm not going to apply it to Katrina because she (as does the film overall) doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the term. An anti-hero is someone who isn't quite on the level of 'good' but knows what they want and we feel a guilty urge to want them to win, even if it clashes with our own moral codes. Here, Katrina has a child, a child that she neglects and ignores in a couple of scenes that are just disturbing in her ruthlessness. Her father, John (Morgan), threatens to have the child taken away unless she sorts out her drug plagued; mischief plagued and crime plagued life. But she cannot have that and enters femme fatale mode to seduce a local nut-case named Kenny (Hayes) into killing her father for her. I don't think anyone in their right minds is going to want Katrina to get away with this.
The film's draw is a question that doubles up as its own hypothesis: "Can you really get away with murder?" thus tempting us to watch to see if someone actually might. Well, unless you're Jack the Ripper in 19th Century, or whenever it was, Britain no, you can't. The question the writers and co. should've asked one another in a filmic sense is: "Should you really be able to get away with murder?" This is what they fail to spot by the time Katrina is just about home free and documenting to us her story from the confines of the future. If the film is so interested in the quirky delivery of the study of achieving celebrity fame through infamy then Natural Born Killers sets the bar and Van Sant's 'To Die For' is sub-Natural Born Killers; and Scott's 'Domino' is sub-To Die For which means this film is sub-Domino, which is really scraping the bottom of the barrel given how much I hated Domino.
So the 'anti-hero' on this occasion is not someone who will force us into questioning our own moral codes as much as she will force us to pray that she dies a slow death not too far into the film's beginning. The drug taking; threatening innocents at home; baby rejecting disaster that is Katrina struts about and moves into seducing Kenny for her own dirty work; we are not amused and we are not enthralled and we cannot believe what we're seeing. These days, the idea of becoming an overnight success for young people is, arguably, at its peak what with the extensive reality TV shows and so forth. I only pray this film be seen by as few as these young people as possible because in the end, the film is a glorification of a young girl who has attained celebrity status through things like pregnancy and getting caught up in a murder plot and what-not. What alarms me is that, here in Britain, the film was classed as a '15' certificate meaning most any teenager can access it.
I felt dirty when I watched Suburban Mayhem. The film is misjudged in its overall delivery and presentation of its ideas; a fun, fast and frenetic series of scenes that revolve around trench-coat wearing hermits being told to kill people on the promise of an easy lay from someone we're supposed to be gunning for. If you want a more mature look at working class life in Australia, as made by the Australians, I recommend 2005's 'Peaches' but Suburban Mayhem is a messy and childish exercise best viewed by as few people as possible.
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