Out of the Blue (15)

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The Independent Culture

The small seaside town of Aramoana, New Zealand, looks very beautiful in the opening scenes of this true-life drama. Peaceful, too, until one day in November 1990, when a lone gunman, David Gray, went berserk and shot dead 13 people.

It was the worst mass-killing in the country's history. Director Robert Sarkies recreates the events with a mixture of actors and non-professionals, including 72-year-old Lois Lawn as an unexpected heroine, and builds the mood of ominous calm quite expertly. The disbelief of the neighbours soon turns to horror as they hear the gunfire getting closer, and the police – with Karl Urban in a central role – look every bit as spooked as the locals.

Sarkies perhaps overplays the initial tranquillity – certain scenes look as if they've been directed by the NZ tourist board – but his quiet, almost meditative take on the killer and his victims is compellingly handled.

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