Rental Review: Red Hill Simon Fitzjohn May 28, 2011 DVDs & Rentals 1978 Ambling along on the modern-day western vibe so well put on screen by the likes of No Country for Old Men, Red Hill is a low-budget Australian effort that comes riding into town and onto rental shelves after missing out on a cinema release. And that is a real shame, as there is enough action, thought and all-round movie-making prowess on display here to ensure this gets a recommendation. Essentially the movie appears to be nothing more than a vehicle for True Blood star (and Aussie native) Ryan Kwanten, but one of the key strengths of this piece is that the majority of the cast is given sufficient time to breath. This allows the movie to be far more than a mere quick cash in on a hot ‘name’ and is all the better for it. Kwanten plays Shane Cooper, a fresh-faced cop who decides to up sticks from the big smoke and relocate to a sleepy farming village ahead of his wife giving birth. Taking a job in Red Hill, Cooper quickly has to face up to the new aspects of this lifestyle – namely a far slower pace of existence, the need to get from farm to farm on horseback and plenty of other ‘yokel’ clichés. So far so sedate, but all that changes when legendary local hoodlum Jimmy Conway (Tom E Lewis) busts out of a nearby jail. Conway, of aboriginal descent, was sent down back in the day after slaughtering his wife and setting fire to their house, but now he is on the run, heading back to Red Hill and looking for revenge. What follows is a story that twists and turns as the Hill folk prepare for Conway’s arrival and the trail of destruction that follows. If it all sounds very simple that is because in all honesty it is. But the real strengths here are that the story is very well written, the acting credible, the action very well handled and, perhaps most importantly, the fact that the film just about balances on the tightrope of believability. Yes it does take a while to get going but once it does Red Hill really gathers momentum and becomes a thrilling watch. Even more impressive is the making of documentary that is on the disc, detailing the flicks’ 24-day shoot and $750,000AUS budget, a remarkable offering considering just how polished the whole thing looks. Red Hill is hardly going to feature on anyone’s must-see list, but it certainly deserves better than simply being ignored.