Critical Review
                                    SUBURBAN MAYHEM

                        Suburban mayhem

Part 1: Film Information

Crew:  Paul Goldman                         Director

            Jan Chapman                           Executive Producer

            Leah Churchill-Brown            Producer

            Alice Bell                                Writer

            Mick Harvey                           Original Music

            Robert Humphrey’s                Cinematography

            Stephan Evans                         Editing

Anousha Zarkesh                    Casting

Nell Hanson                            Production Design

Janie Parker                             Art Direction

Richie Dahne                           Set Direction

Melinda Doring                       Costume Design

Wendy De Waal                      Key make-up Artist

Libby Sharpe                           Production Manager   

           
Cast:
            Emily Barclay                          Katrina

            Michael Dorman                     Rusty

            Anthony Hayes                       Kenny

            Robert Morgan                        John (Father)

            Genieve Lemon                       Dianne

            Mia Wasikowska                    Lilya

            Steve Bastoni                          Detective Andretti

            Susan prior                              Christine Andretti

            Laurence Breuls                      Danny

Running Time: 1 hour 35 mins

Release Dates:
            Australia                                  26 October 2006
            France                                     24 May 2006 (Cannes Film Festival)
            Canada                                                8 September 2006 (Toronto Film Festival)
            Estonia                                                3 December 2006 (Tallin Black Nights Film Festival)
            Hungary                                  20 April 2007 (Titanic International Filmpresence Festival)

Budget:
            AU$ 4,000,000 (estimated)

Box Office(Australia): $325,000
Production Companies:
            Australian Film Finance Corporation (AFFC)
            Doll Australia
            New South Wales Film & Television Office

Distributors:
            Icon Film Distribution (Australia and New Zealand)
            Fantissimo Films (International)
           
Awards:
Australian Film Institute (AFI)

            Best Lead Actress                   Emily Barclay
            Best original music Score        Mick Harvey
            Best Supporting Actor                        Anthony Hayes
                       
                        Australian Screen Sound Guild

            Best Achievement in Sound for Film Sound Design

                        Lexus IF Awards

            Best Actress                            Emily Barclay
            Best Editing                             Stephens Evans
            Best Music                              Mick Harvey

Official Website:         www.suburbanmayhem.com

Here on can find a detailed array of film information in a in easy to use colorful website sticking to the themes and style of the film. Not only can you find list of cast and crew but links to further information about them. The website includes the soundtrack to the film and the entire music artist involved and there is even an option to listen to music while viewing the site. There is a page dedicated to iconic Australian cars that are used in the film with detailed accounts. You are able to download images form the film and select wallpaper. The Links to this website is called “Friends of Mayhem”: Action Vehicles, My Space, Little Birdy, Bird Blobs, Aussie writers Guild.

Bibliography of Interviews with Film Makers:

Paul Goldman – Director

Viewed: 19/04/07

Viewed: 19/04/07

Viewed: 19/04/07

Viewed: 19/04/07

Viewed: 19/04/07

Viewed 19/04/07

 

 

Alice Bell – Screenplay

Viewed: 19/04/07

Bibliography of Reviews in Newspapers, Critical Essays in Journals, discussions in books:

Published In:                         Author:
Drum Media                            Lachlan Marks
Filmink Mag                           Erin Free
OK Magazine
Cream Magazine
Empire Mag                            Michael Adams
Toronto Film Festival              Colin Geddes
Now Toronto                          John Harress
Triple M                                  Chris Murray
The Australian                         David Straton             

Starrs, D B (2006) The maternal monster in 'Suburban Mayhem': [In most
mainstream horror films the woman is depicted as the victim, frequently punished for herunrestrained libido, because, according to psychoanalytic theory, at the heart of horror lies a patriarchal fear of female sexuality.] Metro (Melbourne, Vic:1974), no.151, 2006:22-24.

Sandy, G (2006) Blood in the 'burbs [The two women at the heart of the provocative
new film Suburban Mayhem are having some second thoughts about the
amoral character they created] Australian, 21-22 Oct 2006: Review 4-5

On-line Presence:
Suburban Mayhem was not difficult to find on the Internet especially having its own web site and of course all the major film websites included some commentary and film information however very superficial. The official website is very attractive and animated to keep audiences hooked and is supported by sound, visual pop-ups, and keeps with the films stylistic and iconographic themes from the feature film. Regardless of being covered by the general film review websites there was a lack of interviews and general film information on both cast and crew. There was already interviews and reviews that had been taken off the Internet which is very surprising as the film was only released in Australia towards the end of last year. Using search engines and on-line journals to build a repertoire of the film there was clearly a lack of interest in the film by Internet users and writers alike. Despite the hurdles finding in-depth information and credited reviews the Internet did serve as a great asset in producing a critical review of the film.

 

Evidence of films presence on-line:
www.suburbanmayhem.com
http://thecia.com.au/reviews/s/suburban-mayhem.shtml
www.festival-cannes.fr/films/fiche_film.php?langue=6002&id_film=4351629
www.e.bell.ca/filmfest/2006/films_schedules/films_description.asp?id=287
www.rottentomatoes.com/m/suburban_mayhem/
www.abc.net.au/atthemovies/txt/s1755542.htm
www.smh.com.au/news/film-reviews/suburban-mayhem/2006/10/27/1161749299559.html
www.hkiff.org.hk/eng/programme/show_detail.php?fi_id=202
your.sydneyanglicans.net/culture/watching/suburban_mayhem/
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0450506/
www.filmink.com.au/industry/index.php?subsection=3
http://www.darkhorizons.com/news05/050803a.php
http://www.festival-cannes.fr/films/fiche_film.php?langue=6002&id_film=4351629
http://www.afi.org.au/latestnews/aussiereleases/aussiereleases_frameset.asp?filename=mayhem.asp
http://www.filmhunter.com.au/templates/content.aspx?pageID=324
http://www.worldcinemashowcase.co.nz/suburban.html

 

 

Part 2: Critical review

Synopsis

A self-indulgent, self-obsessed, self-loving 19 year old single mother Katrina has not worked a day in her life but is able to support her wild and crazy lifestyle of booze, drugs and boys through handouts from her single father and petty theft. Her mother left the family when she was only 6 years old and as a result an unconditional bond was born between her and brother. The father gave too much love and not enough discipline and the children grew up rebelling against society, the law and even their own father.

Katrina’s world is turned upside down when her brother is sentenced to life without parole after chopping the head off a petrol station employee with a samurai sword during a hold-up. To make matters worse her father has decided to stop giving her money and encourages her to get a job. With no more freebies, a baby to support and aching urge to free her brother, Katrina tries to amend all the wrongs in her life by plotting to kill her father therefore leaving her with a house and so she sees it a future.

Of course she could never be the one to carry out the murder and as a master manipulator she seduces and deceives those around her. The police are on the case, the community are puzzled and Katrina stands by and watches it all happen.  

My first impressions of the movie was made even before I watched the film, just looking at the film’s poster formed it (available to view top of pg 1). Instantly I knew this was going to be larger than life provocative film about this girl involving murder. Couldn’t be that bad? With great layout and unique design I was eager to watch the film. You could see the production and design team had worked hard creating a unique and visually sensational advertising format to attract the films target audience. Not only did the poster have a unique attraction but also the films direction maintained curiosity by presenting the plot in a mock-documentary format. With it’s distinguishable milieu, costume design and use of Australian iconographic instruments I assumed this film would be good viewing!

The film deals with multiple themes that are entangled around a wild and very troubled girl called Katrina.  Themes range from family dynamics like unconditional love for a family member to the abandonment from a parent and focuses on the repercussions of their situation. It takes a close look at the socio-economic affects life has on these families and opens the door to a so-called normal existence in Suburbia. The quintessential message that the film projects is being able to get away with murder and in such a fashionable and guilt-free way. If we could get away with murder I think there would be more people doing it.

What makes this film unique is a staunch, angry and rebellious teenager who feels she is entitled to anything she wants plays the villain. She manipulates men with sex and eventually gets what she wants through manipulating those close to her. The problem with this film is that Katrina is so unbelievable it can get painful to watch; she simply gets away with everything she wants to do. There is no character to compete or challenge her and the police are portrayed in a hopeless manor and are unable to stop her even though they have long term evidence of her troubled childhood and illegal activities.

The most frustrating element of this film is that the audience cannot pity or feel for Katrina cause of her radical and impulsive behaviour. To make matters worse is her relationship with her child is pure neglect and boredom subtracting any pity for her if there wasn’t any to begin with. This film is trying to push any sense of the common sense out the window and rebels against the stereotypical film where there is a sense of closure. Even though this is an initiative in the film world it does leave audiences with sense of betrayal and an unjustified end. The idea of the narrative is catchy, different and I can understand why it was made into a film but the end product was very disappointing.

Paul Goldman history in film spans over 30 years and he has Directed three films “All the way”, “Australian Rules”, and “Queen of the Damned”. Even though he stared off producing music video his first title in the film industry was screenwriter and cinematography for “Ghost of the civil dead”. He is well acclaimed for his work to date and is has a well-established reputation in the Australian Film Industry.

He first read the script produced by Alice Bell and instantly saw himself directing the film. He was attracted to the lead character Katrina who he saw as powerful screen character that must be produced. He did not accept the script there and then and with Leah Churchill-Brown, Alice Bell, and input from Jan Chapman developed the script further adding essential details to allow the process from script to film to take place. He had been working with Bell and Churchill-Brown prior to Suburban Mayhem and there was already a professional relationship standing between the three. 

The film did not get great exposure in Australia when it was released and went quickly to DVD. The film only wrapped up AU$35,000 and took an estimated AU$4,000,000 to produce. This fact speaks volumes for the films failure.  Leah Churchill-Brown praises the script writer and is even quoted saying that all those read the script quickly wanted to be apart of the film. This did not happen when trying to pull in the viewers in Australia. Internationally the filmed got exposure through the Cannes Film festival, Toronto Film Festival, Tallin Black Nights Film Festival and Titanic Filmpresence Festival.

The communal thoughts of the critics reflect the box office taking in Australia: not very good. The art direction over-shadows the plot leaving the film to wonder from ‘heavy-handed eccentricity and spinning with hysterical, phony emotion (www.cinematical.com). Another view many critics share is that the film is insufficient of true morals affecting the relationship between character and audience.

This film thrives on the use of Australian symbols and milieu. The location of the film is set in a typical suburb in New South Wales giving a sense that anyone could live there, nothing is out of the ordinary. Katrina’s dream is to own a house by the beach suggesting she wants to break out of this mundane existence but Katrina herself is anything but mundane. She drives the iconic Australian car and drinks excessively both of which are engrained in the Australian culture. Suburban Mayhem themes are humanities problems but the language and stylistic elements clearly distinguish it to be an Aussie film. Even more so is the combination of genres, including black comedy, crime and thriller causing you to laugh one minute yet feel revolted the next.