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The Magician Review

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Film student Max (Andrighetto) is making a documentary about Melbourne-based hit man Ray (Ryan). Max follows Ray as he goes about his daily business, offering his own brand of cultural commentary.

★★★★★

We’ve been here before. You know — a killer, a camera, the voyeurism, the complicity… From Peeping Tom through to The Last Horror Movie via Man Bites Dog (which this most closely resembles), it’s cinematic ground so furrowed that there’s barely any skeletons left to unearth.
Fortunately, though, Aussie first-timer Scott Ryan manages to exhume the odd fresh bone with this little shot-on-video shoestringer, while admirably underscoring the DIY in ‘DIY filmmaking’ by writing, directing and portraying the killer in question. With his gaunt, ashen features and yellowing, gravestone teeth, Ryan’s Ray ain’t exactly a pretty sight. Yet, like Eric Bana’s Chopper, he’s compelling company. He’s too crass to be properly charismatic, but that’s the appeal: between hits Ray blathers on like mouthy, half-informed bloke-down-pub, insisting that Clint Eastwood was in The Dirty Dozen, or pontificating over the minimum payment he’d have to receive to eat a bowl of shit.

Tempering such dark humour is an insidious atmosphere of extreme threat. Ray’s a hit man rather than serial killer, but you sense a lot of rage fermenting beneath his cool-pro posturings. Result is, you have no idea which of the small, unknown cast is still going to be breathing come the credits — everyone here is just one ill-advised comment away from a bodybag…

Bearing a passing resemblance to both Man Bites Dog and Chopper, it’s hardly original, but still a laudable example of proficient guerilla moviemaking.