Who needs another killer couple fleeing cross-country with cops in hot pursuit? Yet thanks to this Australian thriller’s aggressive and unnerving formal approach–jump cuts that send us hurtling through the story like a needle skipping across a record and an inventive camera style that defamiliarizes characters as well as settings–the duo’s paranoia is translated into the slithery uncertainty of our own perceptions. The creepy alienation of the lead couple (Frances O’Connor and Matt Day) from their victims and the world in general eventually infects their own relationship, and variations on their mistrust crop up between the cops pursuing them and in just about every other cockeyed existential encounter in the film. Apart from some juicy character acting and striking uses of the outback as landscape, what distinguishes this genre exercise by veteran director Bill Bennett is the metaphysical climate he produces through style, transforming suspense into genuine dread; this is the most interesting reworking of noir materials I’ve seen since After Dark, My Sweet or The Underneath. Pipers Alley. –Jonathan Rosenbaum
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): film still.