Suburban Mayhem: Special Edition
R4 - Australia - Warner Home Video
Review written by and copyright: Jim Stanton & Noor Razzak (3rd November 2008).
The Film

It takes talent to be a real bitch. The kind of evil she-devil that makes ordinary folks down the street shudder into the shelter of their velour lounge suites, and twitch the curtains as she goes by, that takes work. A neighbor complains, threaten their life. Some one narks on you, kill their dog. Simple.

Paul Goldman’s film "Suburban Mayhem" sells our anti-heroine Katrina to us in a whole convincing way, and its not often that a character so deeply wrong can hold such appeal. Emily Barclay’s portrayal of rampaging Katrina is snake-like is both in its appetite to devour and also ability to mesmerize the hapless males of her community in quick succession. Maiden aunts, wives and daughters look on in open disapproval but Katrina is untouchable, her eyeliner remains as black as ever, her power unchecked as her brother kills, her baby cries, her boyfriend ditches and the father screams he is murdered from the next room. Alice Bell's screen play captures the realism of a very possible story, true to life, earthy dialogue, candid tell-all style giving breath and life to characters that could easily become lampooned. I found myself unconsciously applying each face to members of my own small community growing up. Curious neighbors, widowers, young open eyed girls, rebels and the ever present stupid kid are the kind of universal personalities that fix things in place. Their commonality in this film binds them firmly in place under the sun saturated cul-de-sacs of Golden Grove and makes the devastating rampage of Katrina all the more grating to the senses.

The film opens to the smirk, and giggle of our Katrina, 19-year-old single mum at the funeral of her father. She’s a girl who gets what she wants using the means that she has; herself. Body and mind is dedicated to her single minded drive of doing what ever the hell she wants and freeing her deeply beloved brother from prison. I could only watch in horrified fascination as Barclay’s Katrina hurtles from hooning, burnout style through suburbia, fag in hand, drunk with baby in tow, to scrubbed up playing dress up as the wronged other woman in an attempt to convince a wife of a cheating husband (Hilariously she attempts to make her daughter look more like the ‘bloke’ in question by mascaraing her hair)

I know, I know, all this says is Katrina, Katrina, Katrina but she's one of the more vivid and horrific car crashes of a human being I have seen on film for a long time. Fine performances are given by both Michael Dorman as Rusty and Robert Morgan as John Skinner, Katrina’s long suffering father; two men equally protective and enamored with Cyclone Katrina in their own ways, defined personalities that have no hold or defence against the virgin/whore.

Writer Alice Bell was advised when creating Katrina to add to her back story, put a little dark material in about a past incident that would drive an ordinary girl to the lengths that she goes to chew up and spit out all she surveys. But Bell resisted and to her credit, it works. Katrina offers no excuses so why should we seek them.

Goldman’s style has the details down, giving the setting real grounding firmly between the facsimile houses of suburbia, utes and a sunburnt lawn, bourbon and boredom, changing nappies and leatherette clad thighs of a teenage harpy.

Video

Presented in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen ratio, this image is fairly solid. I'm glad this film wasn't shot in a 2.35:1 ratio because known Icon they've cropped releases. So when you're watching this you can be assured it's the proper ratio. The image is clean and sharp, I was impressed with the vibrancy of the colours and the deepness of the black levels. The image is clean or dirt, specks and compression related problems are nonexistent. Additionally there is no edge-enhancement and I was pleased with the overall depth of the image.

Audio

Two audio tracks are included in English Dolby Digital 5.1 as well as English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its 5.1 track. The dialogue is clear and distortion free, range is adequately mixed and balances the subtle ambient sounds to the more aggressive pumping moments of the film (mainly with the music and also the murder sequence). It's got some fairly good depth and feels immersive which is what all soundtracks should aim to achieve.
There are no optional subtitles available on this disc.

Extras

Warner Brothers ad Icon has included an audio commentary, a featurette, a mockumentary, interviews, deleted scenes and bloopers. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

First up is a feature-length audio commentary by director Paul Goldman, producer Leah Churchill-Brown and screenwriter Alice Bell. I'm a fan of commentaries, but a really good one can be few and far between, luckily this one held my attention and was very interesting to listen to. The director comes across as very honest about his film and while he delivers a fair amount of praise for his cast and crew he's equally ready to point out what he didn't like about the film, or what could have been done better given time or more money. The film's producer takes time to go through various production elements and we hear from the screenwriter about her process in developing and writing the script among other things.

Next up is "A-Z of Suburban Mayhem" a featurette that runs for 27 minutes 32 seconds. Is another in a line of standard making-of's that feature interviews with key cast and crew as they talk about their characters and involvement in the film, what the film is about and on working with each other, etc.

"The Receptionist" is a short mockumentary which runs for 4 minutes 54 seconds and is a clip created by screenwriter Alice Bell about the receptionist from the beauty salon, basically a glorified interview by a featured extra. It's pretty funny and worth a look.

"What Is The Film About?" cast & crew interviews run for 2 minutes 35 seconds and are a series of talking heads with key cast and crew telling us about the film... duh!

A standard blooper reel is next and runs for 7 minutes 2 seconds and features the usual stuff, line flubs, missed cues etc.

Finally there's a deleted scenes reel which runs for 14 minutes 25 seconds, these scenes are lumped together and feature a time code so they're pretty rough. They include "Who the F#@k Are You?" are more interviews from the film about Katrina's brother Rusty plus an additional scene with Rusty and Katrina. "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" are yet more interviews about Katrina's rampage of selling John's stuff and what she and Rusty used the money for, "Poor Kenny" Katrina talks about how untrustworthy Kenny is and on what happened to him, "Lilya's Transformation" Katrina gives Lilya a dog and shows Lilya in a new light, "Rusty Fights Back" Rusty faces off with Katrina at the supermarket and "Who You Marryin'" Rusty asks Katrina who she's going to marry, and she talks about needing more security.

Overall

The Film: A Video: A Audio: A Extras: B+ Overall: A-

 


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