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Film / Red Hill

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"Revenge just rode into town."

Red Hill is an Australian New Old Western film set in the modern day in a rural Victorian country town. On the same day that newly transferred police officer Shane Cooper arrives in town, convicted murderer Jimmy Conway escapes from Maximum Security Prison and goes on a killing spree of the town's police officers.

Red Hill provides examples of:

  • Ambiguously Evil: The flashback to the rape and murder of Jimmy's wife seem to show only nine men, However (not counting Shane) there are twelve men in Old Bill's posse- including the late-arriving Carlin brothers and the clearly-involved Gleason. Counting down Old Bill, Manning and the Carlin’s are unambiguously stated to be guilty and unrepentant in the final showdown. Gleason’s suicide shows his guilt, and Rex says that he’s going to hell after being shot by Jimmy. The brutality Jimmy spends killing Slim, Ken and Ted implies a personal beef with them. Slim and Ted, with their businesses that would have boomed if the railroad deal went through, both would have had motives to take part in Old Bill's revenge attack on the Conway's. Slim may have only died because he called Jimmy a black bastard and tried to take advantage of a moment of hesitation on Jimmy's part though. When Jimmy enters Ted's bar, he mostly ignores Ted, until Ted tries to shoot him, although he may have just been doing that to draw out the terror. Earl shot in a split-second moment trying to ambush Jimmy under what he could have viewed as legitimate circumstances and there’s no sign of anything personal between them. The fact that Willy is shot when Old Bill, Dale and Manning were also targets could mean that Jimmy had some enmity towards him, but perhaps Jimmy simply couldn't tell who he was from the distance he made that shot. Dale does ride out for the final fight with Old Bill and Manning (his reaction to Shane’s suspicions for Old Bill’s story are also ambiguous) but that could just be out of confused desperation or to avenge the friends he'd lost to Jimmy, and Jimmy doesn’t let him know it’s coming before killing him, unlike Manning. Barlow largely seems like a Nice Guy, but when he's wounded and being carried by Shane he babbles about how Jimmy is going to kill them all, although that may have just been ordinary panic after seeing Jimmy sadistically kill Ken while Barlow was Playing Possum. It's also unclear if Jimmy deliberately shot Barlow in a way that would cause a protracted death, or if Barlow's death or survival didn't mean anything to him.
    • It's possible that while some of Old Bill's men were definitely involved in burning Jimmy's house and raping/killing his wife, others may not have been. That being said, it's heavily implied that all of them (including supposed Nice Guy Barlow) were at least complicit in knowing that Jimmy was innocent and choosing to cover it up regardless.
  • AM/FM Characterization: Jimmy puts Stevie Wright's "Black-Eyed Bruiser" on the bar's jukebox, a song about a Blood Knight willing to remain unbowed even if it hurts like hell and lamenting the fact that it's the only way he knows how to express himself nowadays, exposing him as a Bruiser with a Soft Center. It's a pretty good interpretation of his mentality, in retrospective.
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  • Aboriginal Burial Ground: Conway was protecting this, which led to him being framed in retaliation for driving off industry..
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Cooper uses it to avoid Conway, but when he comes out, Cooper realizes that Conway never left the room.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The Red Hill Police station, though, given the twist, it could later count as Storming the Castle.
  • Aren't You Forgetting Someone?: Bill doesn't give Shane a position during the briefing (at first).
  • Asshole Victim: Old Bill and everyone who was either involved in raping/killing Jimmy's wife and destroying his life or covering up what happened is this.
  • The Atoner: Gleason, given his suicide, leaving behind a note that will clear Jimmy's name, and his earlier kindness to Shane.
  • The Bait: When Conway lures out the police with their comrade bound to the driver seat of a car.
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  • Bound and Gagged: Shane.
  • Bullet Sparks: Bullet sparks are seen when Jimmy kills the publican inside the hotel. Even odder, Jimmy is using a shotgun, so these sparks are being generated by buckshot.
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: Shane eventually manages to call for police back-up from the next town by using Gleason's satellite phone. However, by the time they get to Red Hill, all they can do is facilitate Jimmy's Suicide by Cop. Which just adds to the tragedy of the situation.
  • Car Fu: Slim runs Jimmy down with his car. Jimmy stands up as if nothing had happened.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Aboriginal weaponry on display in the window of the information centre. It sits there in plain view for most of the movie, appearing to be nothing more than a demonstration of Red Hill's racial insensitivity. Until Jimmy steals the weapons and uses them to silently murder Willy and Manning.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The Carlin brothers. Their first scene establishes Old Bill's lack of respect for the environment and willing to bend the rules and they come back to town at the end just in time to back Old Bill up against Jimmy, making them literal examples of this trope..
  • Clear Their Name: Shane attempts this with Jimmy.
  • *Click* Hello: At the climax of the film, Old Bill is distracted by the riderless horse running past. He then feels a barrel placed against the back of his neck, and hears the click of a revolver being cocked as Jimmy is standing behind him.
  • Clueless Deputy: Barlow, who is asleep at his desk when Shane arrives, and got caught cold by Jimmy while he was awake later on.
  • Cold Sniper: Earl is meant to be one of these, stoically setting up a stand on the roof for the purpose of ambushing Jimmy if/when he comes into town. Ironically, he is one of the posse members least likely to have been involved in the rape and murder of Jimmy's wife, although he may have participated.
  • Corrupt Hick: Old Bill is the local police inspector, and he dispenses justice if, when and how he sees fit. He also has distinct ideas of what the future of the town should be, and reacts harshly to any critics of his vision.
  • Cut Phone Lines: Jimmy destroys the landlines and pulls down the cell tower outside of Red Hill to completely isolate the town. But one of the farmers has a sat phone...
  • "Die Hard" on an X: Die Hard on a town deep within the Australian Outback, cut off from any other civilization and incommunicado thanks to Jimmy's efforts and one man so badass that he alone is enough stand-in for an entire army of crooks. It eventually turns out that, similar to another Western, And God Said to Cain..., the man assaulting the entire town is the McClane on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge Suicide Mission.
  • Disguised Hostage Gambit: Old Bill shoots what he thinks is Jimmy through the rear window of a car, only for it to turn out to be Slim; Bound and Gagged and wearing Jimmy's hat.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: Jimmy likes to announce his presence to his victims by pumping the side on his Sawed-Off Shotgun. This usually cues an Oh, Crap! moment as they realize that their time on earth is numbered in minutes, if not seconds.
  • Epic Fail: Slim unloads a revolver on Jimmy at point-blank range and misses every single shot. Jimmy even takes a couple of seconds to give him a look before blowing him away.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • We meet Old Bill addressing a town meeting, where he's a jerkass towards people who suggest new innovations for the town, and receives the support of most of the attending townspeople. Then, when Shane tries to greet him, without breaking stride he notices Shane's missing gun and harshly reprimands him for it.
    • Shane Cooper gets this as well: We see him getting ready for his first day as a police officer in Red Hill, and he's unable to find his gun due to having just moved in the night before. Before he leaves, he goes to check on his wife (who is pregnant) to make sure she's okay, they share a tender moment, and Shane opts to walk into town in case his wife needs the car. Later on, we find out that Shane's reasons for moving to Red Hill was for his wife's peace-of-mind, and that beforehand when he was working in the city, he had refused to fire on an armed kid (who was implied to be high out of his mind) because Shane wanted to help him, which resulted in Shane getting shot by the kid. This establishes a few things about his character: 1.) He's a genuinely Nice Guy who tries to look out for others and cares for his wife since it's for her benefit that he moved to Red Hill, 2.) Despite trying to be a good cop, he is out of his depth and unprepared for the danger that's about to come to the town, and 3.) He's reluctant to kill with a gun and will try to find a peaceful way to resolve the situation, which averts the Trigger Happy trope commonly associated with cops.
  • Exotic Weapon Supremacy: Given that Jimmy is Aboriginal he uses traditional aboriginal weapons in the form of a spear and a boomerang to kill two people respectively.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The movie starts on the morning of Constable Cooper's first day in Red Hill, and ends at sunrise the next day. It is a very eventful day.
  • Fiery Cover Up: Old Bill and his posse torch Jimmy's home in an attempt to cover up their crimes. They are very surprised when he emerges from the flames still alive.
  • First Day from Hell: Constable Shane Cooper arrives for his first day of work at his new posting in Red Hill. He is hoping for peace and quiet. Instead his first day coincides with a killer breaking jail and returning to Red Hill on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Frame-Up: The film's twist
  • Genre Savvy: Rex points out that Jimmy might take the least ideal road into town just because he knows Old Bill wouldn't expect him to take it. Old Bill gives this enough consideration to post Shane on that road. Turns out Rex was right. He also seems to be the only one besides Gleason to realize and accept what they did to Jimmy was wrong and that their the villains of the story, as his last words are that he's going to hell.
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: When what is left of the police and the posse gather to regroup in Earl's barn, Barlow starts babbling that Cooper is right and that they need to call in backup. Old Bill slaps him across the face and sarcastically asks if he could make any more noise.
  • Good All Along: Jimmy. "Good" isn't an appropriate term to describe his actions during the movie, but it turns out his reasons for returning to Red Hill are about avenging his wife for what Old Bill and his men did to her 15 years ago. He's NOT just killing people For the Evulz.
  • Great Escape: Jimmy breaks out of maximum security prison (off-screen).
  • Hollywood Fire: Bill stands only 2 feet away from a giant burning haystack.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: Jimmy hunting the police. Lampshaded by the twist in which the cops of the town turn out to be the bad guys.
  • I Have A Wife: One of the constables tries to invoke this when he's cornered by Jimmy and is about to die. Considering that said constable was complicit in the rape and murder of Jimmy's wife 15 years ago, Jimmy is NOT moved by his plea.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Not so much the actual police, but several of the armed civilians who go after Jimmy alongside the cops. It's even parodied by the fact that one such civilian unloads an entire clip at Jimmy only four meters away and misses on every shot.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: At one point Jimmy performs a Boom, Headshot! on Earl. Earl is on top of a building, behind cover, 50 to 100 metres behind Jimmy, who is on horseback, firing a handgun, in the dark. It takes one bullet to take out Earl.
  • Impromptu Tracheotomy: When Old Bill, Manning and Dale attempt to draw Jimmy into an ambush, Dale is waiting in the dark when he gets an Aboriginal spear through the throat.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Old Bill.
  • Last Breath Bullet: Lampshaded by Jimmy before he shoots Bill, whilst the backup officers are pointing their guns at him.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Jimmy Conway gets hit by a speeding car, is able to shoot at the driver whilst on the bonnet, gets flung off when the car crashes into another car and is able to stand up and move around as if it was nothing.
  • Mexican Stand Off: The film's climax.
  • Miscarriage of Justice: Turns out the police framed Jimmy for the murder of his wife so they could get the land he was protecting, they then put him on trial and falsely testified to lock him up for life.
  • Mission Briefing: The police plan to intercept Jimmy.
  • Mistaken for Badass: Shane. The poor guy is an Action Survivor through and through, but he's seen as a bigger badass than he really is because Jimmy hasn't killed him yet after several confrontations (in which he was running for his life).
  • Molotov Cocktail: In flashback, Old Bill is seen using one to set fire to Jimmy's home as they attempt a Fiery Cover Up.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Willy's reaction to seeing that they shot Slim instead of Jimmy. Also implied with Rex and Gleason towards Their roles in raping and killing Mrs. Conway and framing Jimmy.
  • New Old West: The entire film is directed like a Western film at various occasions whilst set in modern day. This includes cattle wrangling, bar shootouts, quick draws, riding a horse into town and across rugged terrain, even with a Western themed soundtrack. And given the location (Gippsland, Victoria) it is awesomely justified.
  • Nightmare Face: Jimmy's burn covering half his face and twisting one of his eyes.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Shane carrying an injured Barlow, even after Shane leaves him in a safe place so he can confront Jimmy and subsequently ends up outside of town, he goes back to get him to take him to the barn.
  • Pet the Dog: Despite being set up as a ruthless killer, Jimmy spares the old couple he was holding at gunpoint to force Shane to back down, and he later spares Shane by taking him out to his burned down house and leaving him there instead of killing him. Justified in that Jimmy only wants to kill the people who were responsible for ruining his life.
  • Punk in the Trunk: After Jimmy shoots Slim, he dumps him in the boot of Slim's car (to be used later in a Disguised Hostage Gambit). Later, Shane is knocked out in the freezer of the hotel, and wakes to find himself Bound and Gagged in the boot of a car and being driven out of town.
  • Rabid Cop: Old Bill and Manning even before The Reveal.
  • The Radio Dies First: Jimmy takes out the comms tower making contact with the outside world impossible. Unless, of course, someone happens to have a satellite phone.
  • Rage Against the Legal System: Jimmy's return to town is to kill everybody who had anything to do with him having been put away for the murder of his wife. It's not until the end that we find out that it's actually a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against those who raped and killed his wife, even if doing so is gonna paint him as an even bigger monster, and he knows it.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: In that order, the police did this to Jimmy's wife and house in the flashback.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Shane's gun.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Jimmy breaks out of a maximum security prison returns to Red Hill to wreak vengeance on those who he thinks have wronged him. And it turns out he has some very good reasons for wanting vengeance.
  • The Slacker: Barlow.
  • Save the Villain: Lampshaded by Conway after the truth is revealed.
  • Sawn-Off Shotgun: Jimmy's preferred weapon is a sawn-off pump action shotgun. He usually announces his presence with a dramatic pump of the slide. This usually signals that carnage is about to ensue.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: attempted by Rex, leading to a brief car chase with Jimmy that ends with Rex bleeding out in a wrecked car.
  • Shout-Out: Shane Cooper's wife is named Alice.
    • Slim unloading a huge gun at Jimmy and missing entirely seems a little reminiscent. See above, however.
  • Silent Antagonist: Subverted with Jimmy. He spends the majority of the movie not uttering a word until right before he dies from his injuries. He tells Shane that his wife was pregnant with a boy before her death, which is a Call-Back to when Jimmy discovered that Shane's own wife was pregnant with a boy and Shane was trying to figure out a good name for him. Also, while the show initially sets up Jimmy as the antagonist, this is subverted by the end when it's revealed what Old Bill and his men did to Jimmy and his wife, which makes them the antagonists and Jimmy more on par with an Anti-Hero.
  • The So-Called Coward: Old Bill mocks and belittles Shane, because Shane refused to shoot a young kid who had pulled a weapon on him, and, as a result, was shot himself. Old Bill makes it clear that he considers a cop who won't shoot to be useless. However, at the climax of the film. Shane proves that he has no trouble pulling the trigger when he is certain of the right and the wrong of a situation.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Jimmy is a master at this, appearing behind his targets absolutely silently at multiple points in the movie.
  • A Storm Is Coming: Cops use this as a cover excuse for the town locals to stay indoors, though an actual storm does roll up.
  • Strike Me Down with All of Your Hatred!:
    Bill: '"Come on, Jimmy, I know you're out there!"'
  • Suicide by Cop: Jimmy chooses to shoot a helpless Bill while he is lying on the ground, in full view of the police that have just arrived, knowing that they will shoot him.
  • Taking Over the Town: Jimmy not only cuts off communication but also has the cops radio thus rendering them useless.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: Invoked In-Universe: Jimmy's rampage on the bar has him starting by putting Stevie Wright's "Black-Eyed Bruiser" on the jukebox, reloading his shotgun to the opening riff, and waiting until it climaxes before starting to shoot.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailers reveal several of the twists in advance like it being the cops and the townsfolk who murdered Jimmy's wife and acting suspicious to Shane.
  • The Voiceless: Jimmy Conway Averted just before he dies.
  • Who Needs Enemies?: Everybody in town willing to fight Jimmy is willing to use everybody else as bait to draw Jimmy out, or tries to cover his ass and point him towards the rest to get them killed. Ir doesn't saves them either way.
  • Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him?: The bartender, as Conway uses the jukebox. In fairness it's pretty clear the guy is panicking after having Jimmy frickin' Conway walk into his bar.
  • Wrongful Accusation Insurance: Averted. Ouch. Jimmy knows he's gone way too far to look forward to anything other than life imprisonment, and it leads to his decision to commit Suicide by Cop. Besides, there's really nothing to live for, so he may have just wanted to die after taking revenge.