FILM Red Hill
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Out Now To Rent and Buy On DVD
Review By Sub-Editor Ross Hughes
I have to admit that I am not a huge fan of the Spaghetti Western. I believe in only two films that have thrilled my Cowboy boots and that is The Good, The Bad And The Ugly and of course the masterpiece that is Unforgiven! Before all regular readers email me with abuse, I am not saying that the genre is crap or anything like that, it just does not grasp my film thirst like many other films do! I have tried many times to get into the saddle with numerous films like Open Range, Tombstone and of course No Country For Old Man, but while I watched and did not find myself bored, I did not feel the need to rush out and buy them for my ever expanding film collection. I have to admit in having both Young Guns standing proud in among my films, next to copies of Hancock and Memento (really need to get some order in my collection) and as I glance above I notice Last Man Standing which is one of those films in my pile I have still not watched and one of the only films of Bruce Willis that I have not attempted to put on-and this is from a guy who has seen Colour Of Night!
Over the last year though I have had a bit of a thirst to watch these kind of films, mostly because of the Computer Game Red Dead Redemption that had me for hours and weeks living and breathing the life of a cowboy! So after a few re-watches of Young Guns and then discovering the quite wonderful short Damn Your Eyes (full film can be seen on home page with interview of the film’s director) I had a need for more. Lucky for me then that this week we had the release of the Patrick Hughes debut feature Red Hill, a modern western tale that had me thrilled from start to finish! It was everything you could want out of a film, a movie that had cool action, a blend of horror mixed with suspense and a wonderful lead character but most of all, a kick ass bad guy! Red Hill surpassed all my expectancies, I wanted it to be at least watchable but it turned out to be one of the best films I have seen this year!
Red Hill follows a young city police officer, Shane Cooper (played by Ryan Kwanten), as he moves to the small town of Red Hill, away from the big city so that his pregnant wife Alice (Claire van der Boom) can enjoy her pregnancy without the crazy pressure of city life! But since Se7en showed that for all new officers with a pregnant wife in tow that dreams of a quiet peaceful life are soon shattered when on the first day of his new job, a convicted murderer, Jimmy Conway (Tommy Lewis), escapes from prisons and starts to embark on a murderous journey back to Red Hill where all the other officers lay in wait!
The horror angle comes from Jimmy himself when we are greeted with a man who looks more like he is fitting for a horror villain than a western bad guy. His burnt and scarred face and silent approach (he does not utter a word) brings a wonderful eerie feel to the role in which he is nothing more than just the Bogeyman! His brutal killings of the police officers who stand in his way gives the film the required dark streak that it needs when at times the slow build threatens to derail the moving story!
But it is Kwanten who is the revelation here. Best known has the male slag Jason Stackhouse in hit TV show True Blood, he is simply fantastic as the guy who just wants to the right thing in his job, his wife and the townsfolk of Red Hill! It his he alone that carries the entire film, bringing sympathy when its required and also for doing every thing the right way! His good nature through out brings out secrets long dead in the town which leads to stunning discoveries that makes him realise perhaps Jimmy has returned for more than just a game of murder! Originally before I sat down to watch this film I was worried that I could not get Jason out of my head, but Kwanten proves that he is a very capable actor and for a while I have always said he is the best thing in True Blood and this just proves my case!
Red Hill plays like a tribute to all true westerns. The theme revenge and redemption plays through out and while die hard fans will probably second guess the outcome to why this is happening way before we get to the reveal, there is no question they will enjoy the path getting there! Comparisons to No Country For Old Men will surface but I am going to cause a stir here and say on record that I enjoyed this more!
Maybe its because I have not watched that many to judge, but for me personally Red Hill is one of the best of its kind and one Western I will be adding to my collection has soon as possible!