Cover Art and Menus: 8/10
Red Hill is a cool little movie that relies heavily on its visuals. This holds true for the cover of the Blu-ray, and the menus within. It just has a dark feel, which is highlighted in the artistic shots of the main characters on the cover. These are not your ordinary front on shots of the actors, but stylized, dark, off-center shots that really build up tension right from the start. More movies should follow the lead of this type of style, as it really adds a bit of mystery to the movie. It may not work for all types of films, but for this it is spot on.
- None – This is a low budget Australian release, so there are no extras featured on the Blu-ray. After watching the movie, I kind of wish that some were included, as this really did not seem like a true low budget release.
The Movie: 8/10
I always am intrigued when I receive a movie like this for review. They say that you should never judge a book by its cover, but maybe you can judge a Blu-ray by its cover. Without knowing much about Red Hill, I was immediately drawn in by the artistic visauls form the cover. What is the movie about? Who are the actors? Just what the heck has Ascully dropped on me to review?
The cover does state that “revenge just rode into town” and that is about all that I could take into this movie, which is just fine with me. I like that excitement and development for a new review, and it is fun to go into a movie like this without any preconceived ideas. Right from the start of the movie things seem a bit dark and mysterious, and while it was apparent that this is an Australian jaunt, it could have easily been set in a Western American town. At the beginning we see the new town Constable Shane Cooper (True Bloods’ Ryan Kwanten) as he shows up for work in the sleepy town where he has recently been assigned. His arrival with his pregnant wife seems like a nice quiet assignment, with Cooper even showing up for his first day on the new job without his gun, which has been lost in the boxes for the move. All chances at this being a peaceful little assignment fly out the window when the Sheriff “Old Bill” Jones (Steve Bisley, who is great in this role) reads Cooper the riot act for taking his new assignment too lightly. Things really shoot into action when the entire town is put on alert when word gets out that convicted killer Jimmy Conway (Tom E. Lewis) has escaped from a local prison, and is hell-bent on returning to the town. It turns out that the town has a long lasting secret with regards to Jimmy and his conviction, and that just about everyone knows what is going on except for Shane Cooper, who is left to fend for himself and the town as this cold-blooded killer seeks some sort of revenge on just about everyone in sight.
One of the things that I liked about Red Hill was the fact that we are kind of left in the dark for most of the movie, much like Constable Cooper. Ryan Kwanten does a good job of stumbling throught the movie just like we are, trying to figure out just what is going on. The story and dialogue at times is a bit weak, but overall I think that this movie does a great job of telling the story without giving too much away too soon. The suspense is palpable throughout the movie, and with the eery scenery and music, it is well done without going overboard.
At the end of the day I was impressed with Red Hill, and the movie lived up to the cover for sure. This was a very different, and very enjoyable surprise.
Audio & Video: 8/10
There are a lot of scenes that are done in the dark in Red Hill, which amazingly does a great job with black levels and lighting for a small budget movie. I was thoroughly surprised by the visuals, and when you consider that the movie was done by Patrick Hughes, and this was his directorial debut for a full length feature, it is even more amazing. Hughes apparently has done only commercials and short films in Australia, so his eye for striking visuals truly served him well on this one. It just looks and feels like a big budget release, and the 2.40:1 AVC encode is very well done. The audio was decent as well, with eery mood music running rampant. I was blown away by the gunfire and Surround Sound used here. Again, this did not feel low budget in terms of presentation.
Red Hill is a niche film, in that it kind of sits somewhere between a Western and a murder movie. I kind of liken it to an Australian No Country for Old Men, without the big credentials, actors or budget. That does not mean that Red Hill is a bad movie, as it really was pretty darn good. It just is a bit of a hard sell, especially when there is nothing but the movie on the disc. For those who really enjoy either of the two genres that this is made up from, or those that like a bit of suspense and dark visuals, Red Hill is a great little movie. It is not for everyone, but those who get it will really enjoy the uniqueness of this movie. It is a little bit short on story and real character development, but it is a fun little movie.
Overall Score 7/10