“Killing Ground” features a man and a woman who make head-slappingly dumb choices as they flee from a pair of killers who are just as inept. Yet in the end, the most regrettable decision may be that of audience members who fork over money to see the movie.
Set in and around a national park in Australia, the story starts off with that charisma-free couple, Ian (Ian Meadows) and Samantha (Harriet Dyer), who plan to pitch their tent and spend time alone in the woods. She’s prone to dispensing exposition (“I’ve got no reception,” she says as she looks at her cellphone when they arrive), while he’s more than happy to ask a weird stranger for advice.
Intercut with that story is the tale of a family who previously camped in the area. The two plots, featuring the same set of predators (Aaron Pedersen and Aaron Glenane), intertwine and, after a lengthy intro, move toward some revolting cruelness.
In his director’s statement, Damien Power, who also wrote the script, cites ’70s “survival thrillers” as his inspiration, and like “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” this movie has the hallmarks of torture porn: gratuitous slaughter, remorseless murderers and gruesome acts.
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Power says his aim was to explore violence, and he generates some suspense from crosscutting the stories. But these personality-free characters fade from your mind even as you’re watching the screen, making the brutality waged against them akin to animated mutilation of cartoon creatures. Certainly, the senselessness of bloodshed may be Power’s point. But with this setup, such a message is all but muted.
(Opens Friday at Screenland Tapcade.)
Not rated. Time: 1:28.