Based on the Aramoana Massacre that occurred on 13 November and 14 November 1990. Resident David Gray, an unemployed gun collector, went on a rampage in which 13 people were shot dead, before Gray himself was shot by police.
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Ordinary people find extraordinary courage in the face of madness. On 13-14 November 1990 that madness came to Aramoana, a small New Zealand seaside village. It came in the form of a lone gunman with a high-powered semi-automatic rifle. As he stalked his victims the terrified and confused residents were trapped in the village for 24 hours while a handful of under-resourced and underarmed local policeman risked their lives trying to find him and save the survivors. By dawn 13 people lay dead. This is a true story. Written by
When David Gray is tuning the radio, we can briefly hear: the 1984 song "Pink Frost" by Dunedin band The Chills, 4XD Gold, the former name of Radio Dunedin, and David Lange, Prime Minister of New Zealand until 1989. See more »
In the town scene, a Chrysler PT Cruiser is clearly visible. This vehicle was manufactured from 2001. See more »
On November 13 1990, David Gray, an unemployed recluse, shot dead 13 people in the small coastal hamlet of Aramoana near Dunedin.
There was much conjecture about whether it was a good idea for someone to make a film about this tragic incident but it has been made and, for the most part, it has been made well.
Robert Sarkies, in a return to form after his well received first feature Scarfies, has created an amazing work of art. The opening shots of Aramoana are breath taking, and the cinematography throughout the film follows suit. The beauty of the scenery only serves to juxtapose the ugly events which take place over those 22 hours of terror.
Using Bill O' Brien's book Aramoana, Sarkies and co-writer Graeme Tetley have crafted a screenplay which focuses on subtlety and nuance. Sarkies intelligently uses these subtleties in several scenes involving Gray. Blurred camera work when Gray is on screen not only show his blurred take on reality, but also reflects his reportedly poor eyesight.
The cast is above average but two actors stand apart. It would have been inappropriate to have displayed Gray as anything but a monster, but Matthew Sunderland is able to give Gray a certain sense of pathos. His portrayal of the paranoid schizophrenic shows the killer to be a shell of a man, who has been overtaken by a terrible disease. We find him chilling and repugnant, yet one cannot help but sympathise with a person who has become so inhuman he appears more animal than man.
The other standout performance comes from Karl Urban as policeman Nick Harvey - one of the first officers on the scene. His eyes display the mixture of fear, confusion and disbelief at what lay before him at Aramoana. Watching him cradle a young girl in his arms, desperately trying to comfort her after she has been shot, is perhaps one of the most touching scenes in a movie crammed full of profound moments.
It is strange to have such a beautiful film made about such a terrible moment in New Zealand history. However, the sensitivity and emotion shown to the tragedy make the film an important commentary on the horrors of modern society. Even in a place like Aramoana, seemingly untainted by the rigours of modern life, can the harsh realities of the world be found and in these moments the human spirit is tested. The people of Aramoana and the emergency services sent to help them are testament to the fact that in the end love and compassion will prevail over the hate and disgust of sick individuals like David Malcolm Gray.
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