Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Mark Hartley
Stars: Radha Mitchell, Ella Newton, Vince Colosimo, Andrew S Gilbert, James MacKay, Karis Kailani.
Filmmaker Mark Hartley (Patrick, etc) is a dab hand at ozploitation genre films and has a keen understanding of the tropes of the genre, but his latest effort Girl At The Window is a throwback to the slasher genre of the 90s in style. It also seems heavily influenced by films like Hitchcock’s 1954 classic Rear Window and the more contemporary variation Disturbia with its themes of murder, suspicion, spying on your neighbours, and paranoia.
Amy (Ella Newton in her film debut) is a troubled schoolgirl who is fascinated with the reports of the Clockwork Killer, a serial killer who preys on courting couples, killing the male and kidnapping the female and holding her captive before killing her. She shares this obsession with her best friend Lian (Karis Kailani). Amy becomes suspicious of her new neighbour Chris (Vince Colosimo, from the classic Moving Out, etc) and his strange nocturnal activities and becomes convinced that he is the killer.
A birdwatcher, Amy uses the tools of her hobby and begins to spy on him, hoping to discover evidence to unmask him. Complicating matters is the fact that Amy’s widowed mother Barbara (Radha Mitchell) has become romantically linked to Chris. Barbara dismisses Amy’s concerns as part of the grief and guilt she is experiencing over the death of her father, for which she blames herself. Even local police detective Nordoff (Andrew S Gilbert) refuses to take her suspicions seriously.
Girl At The Window is part psychological thriller and part slasher horror film, but the whole package doesn’t really hold together. The film has been written by Terence Hammond (Last Dance) and first time feature writer Nicolette Minster, but there are a number of holes in the plot. Much of the dialogue is pretty bland and some of the characters are unrealistic and cliched, especially James Mackay’s creepy schoolteacher Mr Coleman.
The film has been produced by Antony I Ginnane, who has established his reputation as one of the key figures of the exploitation genre through his films of the 70s and 80s (films like Fantasm, Turkey Shoot, etc). The score has been composed by Jamie Blanks, himself a veteran of slasher films with Urban Legend to his credit, and it adds to the tone of the material. Hartley injects a couple of nicely timed jump scares into the material, but otherwise this is fairly underwhelming. The film is set in a small Victorian town that has a rich history dating back to the gold rush, and cinematographer Garry Richards (who has shot a number of music videos) captures glimpses of the buildings that give us a sense of place.
Newton does well with her cliched role as the typical feisty heroine here, and Kailani brings a sassy quality to her performance as Lian. Colosimo has a suitably seedy look here that suits his character and plays into his suspicious behaviour. Mitchell is not given a lot to do here in a fairly thankless role, but her presence should ensure the movie gains an international release.