The Snowtown Murders: Based on True Events

The Snowtown murders, also known as the Bodies in Barrels murders, were the murders of 11 people in South Australia between August 1992 and May 1999. The crimes were uncovered when the remains of eight victims were found in barrels of acid located in a rented former bank building in Snowtown on 20 May 1999. The town of Snowtown is 145 km north of Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia. Though Snowtown is frequently linked with the crimes, the bodies had been held in a series of locations around Adelaide for some time, and were moved to Snowtown in early 1999, very late in the crime spree that had spanned several years. Only one victim was killed in Snowtown; none of the victims or the perpetrators were from that town.

A total of four people were arrested and charged over the murders. All were convicted of the murders or assisting in the murders. The Court decided that John Justin Bunting was the ringleader of this conspiracy. The various victims were mainly chosen on a whim by John Bunting for imagined infractions. He especially hated pedophiles, and some victims were murdered as Bunting suspected them of being a pedophile, usually based on flimsy evidence or rumor. Others were killed due to dislike of overweight people, drug addicts or because they were homosexual. Most of the victims were friends of at least one of the group. Others were relatives, sometimes living in the same house as one of the killers. Others were briefly befriended and drawn into the group as they were picked as easy targets to satisfy Bunting’s desire to commit murder.

In March of 2011, Screen Australia announced that they would be funding a film based on the Snowtown crimes and Film Victoria provided $245,000 for immediate production of the film.It was directed by Justin Kurzel and produced by Warp Films Australia,collaboration between Warp Films and distributor Madman Entertainment. The film premiered at the 2011 Adelaide Film Festival and won the festival’s “Audience Award”, and was selected as one of seven films from around the world that were shown at International Critic’s Week competitions that ran in parallel with the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.At Cannes, the film was awarded with a Special Mention.

Peter Bradshaw reviewed the film for The Guardian and gave it four stars out of five, saying that Snowtown “is a well made but gruesome and often unwatchably violent film.” He concluded by stating that it reminded him of 10 Rillington Place and that while films “like David Fincher‘s Zodiac, or Jaime Rosales The Hours of the Day, or Shohei Imamura‘s Vengeance Is Mine demystified the killer’s macabre criminal career in their various ways; what Snowtown does is create a social-realist horror story showing the killer as parodic paterfamilias.”

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