Ivan Sen’s Outback-set thriller has echoes of classic American material, but an Australian ambience all its own
4 out of 5 stars
An indigenous teenage girl is found with her throat slit by the highway in the Queensland outback. Detective Jay Swan (Aaron Pedersen), a man estranged from his roots and not entirely accepted by his white colleagues, gradually uncovers drug and prostitution rings, police corruption and something dodgy involving the local dogs. Director Ivan Sen’s fourth feature evokes old westerns, Polanski’s Chinatown and other noir classics, but still feels grounded in the dust and dried blood of the Australian soil. Even place names, like the one of the title, and another called Massacre Creek, suggest a dark history overshadowing the present. Widescreen cinematography by Sen himself adds a savage grandeur. The whole thing might have been improved by slightly nippier pacing, but the slow-burn action pays off with a spectacular climactic gun-fight, where the distances are so vast it takes half a second for bullets to find their marks.