I only got the chance to see two films at the 2009 New Zealand International Film Festival, but picking this New Zealand film was an easy choice to make. We had been following the film for a while as we knew of the guy producing it, Tom Hearn. When we first heard about the film it was called The Devil’s Run, which we thought was a great name, so when the festival announcements came out and we saw that the name had been changed to what seemed a more ambiguous title, we wondered if that spelt trouble.
The story follows Stanley, a true crime novelist, who is obsessed with his latest book and the subject of it, Harry Jenson, a serial killer. Convinced he’s losing his mind by getting too entangled with his chosen subject, he is sent on a ‘group tramp’ into the forest to recover. However, as members of the tramping group start to die, and with blood on his hands, his fellow trampers start to suspect he has a dark side, and he also starts to believe this as his bloody nightmares haunt him.
I went into this film not really knowing what to expect, which is indicative of New Zealand audiences when watching New Zealand films, and I’m loath to admit that even though I’m a New Zealand film maker myself, this also affects me. But this film had nothing to fear as it was solid throughout. Even though it was shot on a small budget, it took the viewer on a long and deep journey through New Zealand bush and into the mind of a ‘would be’ killer and it never felt low budget.
With some great writing, directing, and in particular acting, this film kept me gripped to the very end and with only a few hiccups, it stacked up better than most New Zealand Film Commission films I’ve seen over the last few years.
8 out of 10 from me!!!