Out of the Blue


Adapted from Bill O’Brien’s Aramoana: Twenty-Two Hours of Terror—a true account of the 1990 coastal-town shooting rampage that left 13 dead and remains the most brutal in New Zealand’s history— director Robert Sarkies’s meticulous re-creation draws from interviews, police transcripts, crime-scene photographs, and news reports. Yes, Sarkies worked closely with those affected by the tragedy (and had the blessing of the Aramoana community), but he’s still turned out a snuff thriller. If it’s possible to pick around the scab of United 93: Who benefits from this kind of hindsight-free re-enactment? At the outset, with the widescreen sheen of an idyllic morning in the village—children heading to school, seals frolicking near the beach—the titular when seems unlikely; a more apt title would be Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop. Unemployed gun nut David Gray (Matthew Sunderland) rides his bike shakily through town, freaks out on a bank teller over a service charge, and puts a deposit down on yet another rifle—but in case we don’t get it, Sarkies piles on with haunting sound design and hallucinations. There’s some nifty soft-focus cinematography and fine performances, but otherwise, not much to resonate on this side of the pond.