The Horseman

At the 2006 Queensland New Filmmaker Awards, a short film was entered by Writer/Director Steven Kastrissios in competition for the Best Independent Drama award. This particular little piece managed to not only win such award but in doing so secured the creation of a feature film which subsequently became 2008 s The Horseman (Aussie slang for the workman and a title not to be confused with the Four Horseman of Dennis Quaid). The story follows Peter Marshall as Christian, a father who has recently lost his only daughter under horrifyingly violent circumstances and as such seeks to find who is responsible, while simultaneously coming to terms with the loss of his child. Christian finds solace in an unexpected encounter with a similarly troubled young woman in the form of Alice (played by Caroline Marohasy). The pair embark on a trip of immeasurable destruction that will change both of their lives forever in the long search for answers and justice.

The Horseman is through and through Steven Kastrissios baby, as writer and director; this film is his debut and yet proves to sustain a consummate equilibrium between gritty amateurism and refined expertise. With flawless determination and execution Kastrissios directs as if it was himself who has lost a child, piercing the audience right into the heat and heart of every breath and punch Christian lives. This is only excelled tenfold by an astoundingly brilliant performance from protagonist Peter Marshall, who manages to deliver a lead performance to rival any Norton or Bale. This film is Australia's answer to Shane Meadows Dead Man Shoes, a sequel to Chopper and tribute to The Magician and yet it is far better than all of them. However In addition to the violence, there is a strong metaphysical and touching undercurrent throughout, in it s conveying of friendship and in its unconventional meditative pace which makes it stand out as a unique revenge thriller with a dramatic potency.

There is one scene in particular, (which I shall not name for the sake of those who have not yet had the extreme pleasure of seeing this film- all I shall say is the two brothers), in which whether you are man, beast or robot you cannot help but be affected. The sheer courage and illustration of the events in which we are shown are unlike anything else seen before. This cannot be labeled as a mere slasher movie, as it would be the equivalent of naming the Sistine chapel as a sketch. However this is the most violent film I have ever encountered and I like Japanese cinema! But it is never violent for the sake of being violent; it is never soppy or silly. It never goes near the realm of action films like the great Arnie; it is in a whole other league, a one which films such as A Bittersweet Life, A History of Violence and American History X touched upon, a truly realistic and gritty portrayal of the clumsiness and adrenaline of violence in man.

This film managed to turn my stomach through every emotion I believe I have, I was a prisoner to the screen as I could not help but be both physically and mentally engaged in every facet of the story and the characters necessity for not just revenge but closure and comprehension of the truly disgusting events in which he has been subjected to. It is not a film for the weak hearted or minded, as it has no problem in telling and showing it how it is, I am quite surprised that the usually conservative B.B.F.C allowed this to be shown, as it is nightmare for people who do not understand intelligent violence and its complete necessity for the purity of the medium. However Kastrissios should be awarded for his insanely genius direction in creating scenes in which the audience feels as if we are there, or at least watching genuine police footage of such events, which manages to bring a whole new level to independent film-making, in which amateur hap-hazard shoddiness feels a million times more real than the elaborate facade of hair and makeup Hollywood action.

Furthermore, The Horseman is not for everyone, it is unashamed to convey the truest of evils of human nature; it refuses to apologize for the subject matter and the restrictions of society in its dealings with taboos. There is one unfortunate but yet memorable scene involving a football pump and a mans genitals but still even that never feels corny or stupid, it has been moulded in intelligent hands and crafted in such a way that keeps your adrenaline and suspense at maximum throughout, and as such it is perhaps one the greatest of achievements in cinema that I have ever seen and should be mandatory viewing for anyone interested in the fragility, vulnerability and brutal circumstances that humanity can manifest itself in.

The Horseman Trailer

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