Suburban Mayhem

dir: Paul Goldman
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This flick could have been called “When Bogans Attack”, but I guess it wouldn’t be as credible a title. It would also have conjured images of some Steve Irwin nature doco type tracking down and wrestling with bogans in their Western suburbs habitats.

Katrina Skinner (Emily Barclay) is a lethal bogan proving, if nothing else, the old adage that the female of the species can be much deadlier than the male. She is a rampaging sociopath who cares not one whit for any of the people around her, including her baby Bailey. She is an absolutely narcissistic bitch who draws the line at no extremes and cannot be stopped by man or machine, like a classic monster movie fiend.

No one goes the silver bullets / cross and wooden stake route, but maybe they should have thought about it. Or even the cleansing fire, and lots of it.

The film begins with a funeral, that of Katrina’s father John (Robert Morgan), whose death seems untimely. Even at the start, Katrina’s lamentations seem forced and overdone, and the rest of the film catches us up on what really happened to send Daddy to his maker.

From there the flick takes the reality technique of conducting pseudo-interviews with all the people who play a peripheral part in the story, who talk about Katrina as if they’re talking to reporters, journalists or documentary makers, interspersed within Katrina’s main story.

Oh Kat, you evil strumpet. Even though no-one is blind to her nature, she still possesses this ability to manipulate people every which way she can. There’s a degree of sophisticated skill in manipulating people without them knowing it: there’s an entirely different level of ability involved in being able to manipulate people openly when they know you’re manipulating them but can’t resist anyway.

The vengeful minx is on the warpath since the arrest of her equally criminal and equally stupid brother Danny (Laurence Breuls), who is guilty of cutting off a convenience store clerk’s head with a samurai sword. Despite the fact that he is completely guilty, and caught on security cameras presumably committing the dastardly act, Katrina is convinced that there must be some way to get him out of jail.

You see, she really loves her brother Danny. She REALLY loves Danny, and nothing will stop her from being reunited with him. So even though her father still dotes on her (at first), she’s scheming to see how she can facilitate his shuffling off the mortal coil in order to get her hands on daddy’s house. Sell the house, get lots of money which will somehow spring Danny free. Yeah, I know, she’s a sociopath but she’s also not very bright. Hell, when you’re such a sex kitten hurricane of lust, what does it matter?

She has a boyfriend, Rusty (Michael Dorman), who, though a dopey moron himself, seems like a decent chap with a good head on his shoulders. He spends most of the flick babysitting baby Bailey whilst mummy Kat is out shagging anything with a pulse.

Though she plans and schemes, this shouldn’t give the impression that she’s some criminal mastermind single-mindedly working towards her dark objectives. She is mostly a stupid, cruel, vindictive brat happy to torment people just for the hell of it. But she’s determined to get her way, kind of like a very goal-fixated sociopath, a HR manager or a ticket inspector on Melbourne trams.

Utterly amoral, in other words. She will stoop to anything to get her way, including death threats to innocent bystanders, organising the murder of people’s pets, and even sexual teasing of the mentally disabled to further her intentions.

If you’re getting the impression that there isn’t anyone to really support or get behind as a sympathetic character in this, you might be dead right. Sure, there are some people who are not completely awful human beings, but the majority of the time is spent with characters who are utterly fucking repellent from beginning to end.

They’re supposed to be, which is fine. For such an unpleasant slice of life, Suburban Mayhem is a pretty impressive film. Though you never get to relate to any of the characters (I hope), they are recognisable as people, rather than as caricatures. They feel like they’re people living their lives in an obscurity that would have persisted had Katrina been born somewhere else. Preferably into the Borgia family during the Renaissance.

Kat is a repulsive character, but she’s tremendously well played by Emily Barclay. She mixes up the lethal qualities of her sociopathic character with a brazen sexuality that dares you not to be turned on by her even as you hate her with every fibre of your being. I’ve known a few women like that in my time, and let’s just say it’s never worth it down the track but it sure seems so at the time.

The soundtrack, which comes across in the sound mix at fifteen times the volume of the dialogue, emphasises the raw nature of how Kat can sluttily brutalise her way through this world in the spirit of hellish entitlement.

You feel sorry for every single person that comes into her orbit, most of all her baby, probably. It’s one of the few films where you’re actively barracking for Child Protection Services to walk through the door and take the baby she neglects terribly away from her.

Still, baby Bailey isn’t totally without allies in this world, in that Rusty dotes on her despite not being the biological father, and Kat’s dad loves the girl. The random strangers Kat drafts at random to look after the child do a better job than Kat does, especially when she’s on her way to drunkenly shag the retarded.

The film’s end is known from the beginning, but a tonal shift occurs in the manner in which the last part of the film unfolds, in that it’s pretty grim. Previous to that, as horrible as Kat or anything she does, there’s an anarchic energy to the proceedings giving it the veneer of black humour. The last part of the film has a true crime re-enactment feel to it, as one of the men coerced into killing her father sets about fulfilling his mission parameters.

The ending, the very ending, just adds insult to injury. When you see how and where Kat ends up, it’ll take all your energy to swallow your rage without choking on it, even as you shake your head disgusted at the smile on your face.

People like this exist. I’ve seen them. I’ve met them. I’m probably even related to or have gone out with them. They’re all around. That much maligned group previously known as the proles. The little people. The working class. Howard’s Battlers. Aspirationals. Bogans. They call them “chavs” in Britain, I believe. I think they call them Southerners in the States. It may look like an ethnographic study of some previously undiscovered tribe of sub-humanoids living in the outer sprawl suburbs of Sydney, but these are the people making our lives hell on public transport, who snap the antennas on our cars, who fix our plumbing, who pour our beers at the local, and who murder our pets for a joke.

Katrina is their bitch goddess, and she demands sacrifices to be appeased. We are right to be afraid.

I can’t pretend this is an enjoyable film, and it’s definitely not a pleasant one. But it is entertaining, in a horrifying way. Though the filmmakers and director have denied it, the fact that the story is based on an actual person, Belinda Van Kreval from Wollongong, who plotted the murder of her father, who named her baby Tia after the awful drink Tia Maria, neither adds nor detracts from the experience.

You don’t need to tell me there are some dangerous and sexy women out there. Trust me, I know.

7 times you should think twice about having sex with that Charger-driving hellcat at the stop lights out of 10

“You stupid bitch. If you ever call my dad again, I'll come after you. I'll kill you. Your dad. Your stupid fucking sister and your nan.”
- “I don't have a nan.”
”Well that's lucky for you then isn't it?” – Suburban Mayhem