Saturday, May 04, 2019

Bad Blood

1981, New Zealand/United Kingdom, directed by Mike Newell

A fairly straightforward retelling of the mass murder perpetrated by Stanley Graham in 1941, a series of crimes that was the culmination of a lengthy standoff with police over the surrender of weapons in wartime. There's a broader resonance in the New Zealand context of the man asserting himself in relation to the authorities, as well as the relationship with the bush, both a source of refuge and a threat (already explored in films like Sleeping Dogs and, later, in more sophisticated pictures like Utu). While the film is centered on Jack Thompson's character, Carol Burns, as Graham's wife, matches him beat for beat as his mental state collapses. The sense of a tight-knit, yet poisonous, community is very well drawn, and was surely influenced also by the aftermath of the Crewe murders, which would have been in the news throughout the 1970s (and which formed the basis for the film Beyond Reasonable Doubt).

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States