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
Chris Cole is wearing a T-shirt that says: "Save our beach. Stop the smelter." This refers to the late 1970s proposal to build an aluminum smelter at Aramoana, which would have destroyed the township and threatened a local wildlife reserve, and met with a lot of resistance from residents. See more »
When Guthrie is on the radio while driving to Aramoana he says David Gray is 37. Gray was 33 at the time. See more »
If you're approached by this person with an automatic weapon, you are to identify him. Call on him to surrender. If he doesn't, he has to be shot.
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Released completely under the radar in the UK and only grossing a truly pitiful $728 in its one US engagement, Robert Sarkies' Out of the Blue is one of the most cruelly overlooked films of recent years. The material doesn't sound too promising a true story about a eccentric loaner in the ramshackle New Zealand coastal town of Aramoana who went on a 22-hour shooting rampage and killed 13 people, including four children, in 1990. The crime was all the more shocking in a country with such a low crime rate: this was the sort of thing that happened in other countries. (Their previous worst mass murderer had been Stan Graham, who murdered seven people in 1942, the subject of 1991's excellent and similarly underseen Bad Blood).
The potential for exploitation or cheap TV movie of the week dramatics was certainly there, yet the film is made with such understated sincerity, putting the focus firmly on the victims and the community not just Karl Urban's smalltown cop completely out of his depth as he's unable to help people he knows and loves but also unlikely real-life heroine in 72-year old Helen Dickson, who dragged herself back and forth through a ditch to bring help and comfort to one of the victims. It's the sheer ordinariness of how they cope that is so devastating. The performances are all naturalistic and utterly convincing, only adding to the power in a quietly heartbreaking scene in the back of a police car where Karl Urban's cop whispers a bedtime story to a wounded child as his partner blankly holds a dead child in his arms.
As a sidenote, it's interesting how much of the film works as a (presumably unintentional) critique of Paul Greengrass' cheapjack technique. There's an interesting use of sound design that occasionally briefly removes elements from the soundtrack to create a sense that something isn't quite right and an intelligent use of hand-held camera from Greig Fraser that doesn't equate slipping in and out of focus and constantly missing the action with veracity Paul Greengrass style but uses it much more subtly. While the townspeople and cops are shot with a hand-held camera as if it were mounted on a tripod or a dolly to give an understated slight vitality rather than advertise itself, the killer is mostly shot from a tripod in relatively static takes subtly setting him apart from the community he ultimately turns on. It's not about drawing attention to the technique (and by proxy the director) but putting you into the film, the style all but invisible and in the service of the story and the characters. Nor does Sarkies feel the need to demonise any of the victims (as Greengrass did in United 93 to a German passenger whose family chose not to co-operate with his film) to add some cheap fictional drama and conflict to make the film 'play' better: this isn't about producing a quick sugar rush at any cost, it's about ordinary, mundane human beings suddenly finding themselves thrown into a overwhelming situation they have no control over and its very real power comes from it's determination not to oversensationalize.
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