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Sundance Review: Killing Ground

The premise of Killing Ground is a simple one. A young couple camping in the woods of Australia discovers an abandoned tent near their campsite. When no one comes back to it, they become increasingly concerned, especially when a toddler wanders onto their campground with no parents in sight. With such a simple story, it would be easy for Killing Ground to be generic. Fortunately, the film doesn't tell the story in typical fashion and leave what happened to the other tent a mystery to the end. Instead, the film cuts back and forth between the couple who stumbles onto the scene and the story of the inhabitants of the tent who went missing. In doing so, it ramps up the tension to an almost unbearingly degree as you begin to piece together the danger that the protagonists face.

Killing Ground was a difficult film to watch in its raw, brutal depictions of the utterly hideous side of humanity. It made me feel incredibly uneasy throughout, but the level of tension it creates during the final third of the film was almost excruciating. I was so invested in the characters' fates that I found myself anticipating not being able to enjoy the experience as a whole if certain things didn't happen the way I wanted them too. Fortunately, I walked away satisfied with the film, though deeply disturbed by it.

The film works so well because of how it's told, but also how haunting some of the shots are. It also owes a lot to the performances of some of the darker characters (though I won't get into specifics since I don't want to spoil anything.) If any of the performances had been two-dimensional the film wouldn't have worked, and this is especially true of the film's villains. Killing Ground is basically my worst nightmare and at times deeply disturbing to watch, but is incredibly well made as the type of horror film that it is. RATING: 8/10

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