YOUNG police officer Shane Cooper (Ryan Kwanten) relocates to a small country town with his pregnant wife. When news of a prison break sends the local law enforcement officers into a panic, Shane’s first day on duty rapidly turns into a nightmare of revenge and redemption. Katie Shamash has the review.
INSPIRED by films like High Plains Drifter and No Country for Old Men, writer/director/producer Patrick Hughes has created a contemporary western where the themes of revenge, redemption and sacrifice play out against the extraordinary landscapes of the Victorian high country.
The result was Red Hill, Hughes’ first full-length film.
Police officer Shane Cooper (Ryan Kwanten) has moved to the small Victorian town of Red Hill so he and his wife could have some peace and quiet. But Red Hill turns out to be far from the idyllic country town Cooper was expecting.
Red Hill’s business is failing due to its isolation—it is over an hour’s drive from the next town. But Cooper’s boss, Inspector Old Bill (Steve Bisley), is a raging monomaniac obsessed with saving the town from bankruptcy. He warns those who want to destroy the town that “they’d better deal with me first—because I’m not going down without a fight!”
The inspector’s words turn out to be strangely prophetic when convicted murdered Jimmy Conway (Tom E. Lewis) escapes from prison, and heads to Red Hill to launch a vendetta against the police force that locked him up.
Meanwhile, Cooper has his own demons to fight. He can’t bring himself to shoot his gun, and his wife Alice (played by the adorable Claire Van Der Boom) is pregnant again after having suffered a miscarriage.
Filmed in the small town of Omeo in Gippsland, Red Hill manages to capture stunning footage the scenery, showing the wide open fields and mountains of the town, as well as the faded, aged storefronts on the main street.
Ryan Kwanten’s acting skills shine in the movie. His role as Shane Cooper, the responsible, capable police officer, is a far cry from the clueless playboy he played in the HBO series True Blood. And as tension mounts, Cooper finds himself caught in the battle between Jimmy Conway and the police force.
Tom E. Lewis’ performance as Conway is terrifying, portraying him as a stone-cold killer who moves silently from one victim to the next. But as the town’s police force begins to act increasingly irrational, officer Cooper begins to suspect that Conway may not be as merciless as he appears, and that there may be a terrible secret lurking behind Red Hill’s pastoral exterior.
Like the town of Red Hill, its inhabitants also hide secrets behind their unremarkable facades. The movie captures how characters crack under pressure, and what surfaces from beneath when faced with the bullet.
Red Hill is a thrilling movie about how isolation can breed corruption in a small town. It plays upon the loneliness of the setting to create a suspenseful, gripping plot.
Red Hill is now showing in cinemas around Melbourne.