Sixteen-year-old Jamie feels isolated by the poverty of his surroundings, his lack of a father figure, and his mother's preoccupation with his younger, more demanding brothers. So when he falls in with the charismatic and much older John, he is slowly drawn into John's world of homophobia, violence, and murder.
'Australian horror films have always had a unique fascination with the continent’s landscape. Though the genre has evolved from the Ozploitation era into more complex territory, it remains moulded by the terra nullius myth and a colonial sense of disconnection from the land. '
'Justin Kurzel’s 2011 film Snowtown opens with a shot of the flat, South Australian countryside from a moving car window. A pulse-like soundtrack scores the scene. After a moment a monotone voice-over begins: a character based on convicted serial killer James Vlassakis narrates a dream he had, which climaxes with the sparse description of a Chihuahua yapping out of a gash from a man’s neck that looks like a ‘big fucking mouth’. This chilling opening sets the tone for the rest of the film: a relentless, suffocating, deeply unsettling fictionalisation of the infamous ‘bodies in the barrels’ serial murders that took place in the northern suburbs of Adelaide between 1992 and 1999, and which culminated in the discovery of eight dismembered bodies submerged in drums of hydrochloric acid, concealed in a disused bank vault in Snowtown, a small town 145 kilometres north of Adelaide.' (Introduction)
'This essay begins from a simple premise: determinations of ‘Australianness’ and ‘the Australian character’ have been and continue to be inextricably linked to the fetishisation and reification of space in popular cultural manifestations of Australia. This is evident throughout white Australian cultural histories, as well as white histories of Australian culture. Perhaps this is a tautological claim in relation to any conception of nation, tied as such conceptions are to modern practices of cartography and geography. However, it is my contention that whilst notions of space play a determinant role in general vis-à-vis the configuration of nation (and national character), they play a larger role than usual in the configuration of ‘Australia’; the function of space in the conception of Australia is less modulated through competing discourses such as class, ethnicity and religion than in other national examples. This emphasis continues to privilege a mythical vision of space, with terra Australis incognita reified according to either of two dominant paradigms: the landscape is cultivated as a blank space offering the egalitarian opportunity for ‘man’ to reassess and reassert ‘his’ place in the natural order; or the landscape is cultivated as a sublime object—grand, and at times terrifying in its vastness and emptiness, a spectral antipodean environment that seems to ‘naturally’ lend itself to the gothic mode.' (Introduction)