Tuesday, November 01, 2022

Mark Hartley’s The Girl at the Window

Amy Poynton has way less credibility than Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window. Her recent trauma makes her easier to dismiss than Bobby Driscoll in The Window, but also easier to forgive. Witnessing her father’s death was a tough break—one she clearly has yet to fully deal with. However, she is not necessarily wrong about her suspicions in Mark Hartley’s The Girl at the Window, which releases Friday on VOD.

Poynton was not super-happy about moving out into the far exurbs, but her mother Barbara thought it would be good for her. It turned out okay for her mom, since she started seeing the next-door neighbor, Chris Mancini. Her mom assumes Poynton jut doesn’t like her new boyfriend, because he is a little rough around the edges—and he just isn’t her father. However, Poynton is convinced Mancini is the notorious Clockwork Killer.

The serial killer had been on a brief hiatus, but he recently started abducting and murdering young women again. Poynton noticed Mancini’s van returning from late-night drives on the same evenings the Clockwork Killer took new victims. Of course, her mother does not listen to her and the police are predisposed to write her off, due to their previous history with her. Only her bestie Lain Chen will help her, but even her patience will be limited, at least until she is convinced the hard way.

The screenplay by Terence Hammond and Nicolette Minster is mostly rather conventional, but there is a big changes-everything twist that Hartley turns quite nicely. Presumably, that is what attracted the Ozploitation master (having helmed the doc
Not Quite Hollywood and the Patrick remake) in the first place.

Both Radha Mitchell (an experienced horror mom from the
Silent Hill franchise) and Ella Newton are pretty solid as Barbara and Amy Poynton. Karis Oka helps counterbalance the latter’s moodiness with the outgoing Clueless-ish attitude she brings as Chen. Andrew S. Gilbert definitely looks like he belongs in an Ozsploitation movie as grizzled Det. John Nordhoff. However, the most intriguing performance comes from Vince Colosimo as Mancini, especially since he is closely involved with selling the big reveal.

Girl at the Window
is not the greatest Australian horror film, but Hartley and his cast keep plugging away and ultimately make something of it. It is certainly superior to the Wolf Creek films, even though it sometimes exhibits visual-echoes of the notoriously grisly Aussie franchise buried deep within it. Watchable enough to not disappoint Hartley’s fans, Girl at the Window releases Friday (11/4) on VOD.