Dead Europe (18) 84 mins ***
Though it’s not quite in the same league as last year’s knockout one-two of Snowtown and Animal Kingdom, this adaptation of a novel by Christos Tsiolkias (The Slap) provides further notice of the Australian cinema’s new-found boldness. A gay photographer (Ewen Leslie) heads to Athens to scatter his Greek Orthodox father’s ashes and discover his roots; instead, he stumbles over the knots and tangles of a continent-spanning network of prejudice and exploitation. Footage of the austerity protests lend it an of-the-moment vibe, but essentially it’s a historical horror movie, turning on the snapper learning what’s been polluting his bloodline. The film’s restlessness – schlepping from one Mitteleuropan hellhole to another, like a morbid-minded tourist – saps some momentum, but director Tony Krawitz pulls off several unsettling moodshifts, and takes extremely seriously the old-world traditions and superstitions a gruefest like Hostel could only sneer and snigger at.
Dead Europe opens in selected cinemas from today.