Vicki Maloney is randomly abducted from a suburban street by a disturbed couple. As she observes the dynamic between her captors she quickly realises she must drive a wedge between them if she is to survive.
Teenagers Zach and Josh have been best friends their whole lives, but when a gruesome accident leads to a cover-up, the secret drives a wedge between them and propels them down a rabbit hole of escalating paranoia and violence.
A gussied-up freak show masquerading as an art house horror pic. Pass.
For an hour and a half thriller, Killing Ground is a real slog, and it's not until you reach it's last act that you realize why. It also probably explains why the movie has gotten some real raves (and some real pans).
On the surface, it tries in vain to put a fresh face on the Psycho Hillbilly From Hell movie. Killing Ground plays with time quite a bit in the first half of the film, sometimes to good effect in building suspense. Sometimes this backfires and convolutes scenes, as when the same character appears in two scenes back to back at different points in time. Hey, I love when filmmakers mix things up, but it's also a fragile ethos. When it backfires, it just draws attention to itself.
A lot of Killing Ground is like this. I found myself pondering film- critic-type questions (not a good sign) between checking my watch, such as "What is this film trying to achieve and what's it doing differently?" The answers are "I doubt if the filmmakers really know" and "Not much".
If you strip away all the stylized artifice, the competent acting, the technically good filmmaking, what do we really have here? Well, you basically have a slicker "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" slanted to tweak the emotions of the Middle Class (add yuppie heroes, add tykes in danger) or "Wolf Creek" with some really stupid villains (sorry, sadistic does not equal interesting).
None of the characters in Killing Ground are really very interesting, if you get down to it. Maybe that's not important to you, and with a strict thriller, it's not a requirement. Are the human characters in Evil Dead very interesting? Hell no. But with Sam Raimi bringing the freshness, who cares? Even Eden Lake (which has a very similar plot) brought villains with a slightly fresher edge.
Does Killing Ground just stink? No, it's a competent if not overly manipulative knock-off posing as an arty thriller. And that's just a little to ingenuous for me.
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