Is it me or is there some kind of subtle agenda hidden in Australian films these days? A warning for anybody contemplating moving to Australia to think again. Maybe Australia’s cities are overpopulated and this is their way of keeping the numbers down. There has always been an underlying violence in Australian cinema but they are really going for it now with works like Underbelly (TV), Animal Kingdom (David Michôd), and Snowtown (Justin Kurzel). Bloody hell Snowtown, try getting Snowtown out of your head once you’ve seen it. Now here’s director Jon Hewitt with another film about how dangerous Australians are. X: Night of Vengeance is a stylish thriller in which a high-class prostitute spends her last night as a working girl trying to stay alive after she witnesses a corrupt cop killing a drug dealer.
Holly (Viva Bianca) dreams of escaping to Parisbut has one more night to pull tricks before leaving Sydney forever. Holly’s last gig is a threesome with drug dealer Willie (Hazem Shammas), but her colleague finds herself indisposed. So Holly quickly replaces her partner with 17-year old runaway Shay (Hannah Mangan-Lawrence). Shay has only recently arrived in Sydney and is hopelessly out of her depth. Their evening goes well enough until Bennett (Stephen Philips) arrives and shoots their client in the head three times. Holly and Shay escape but find themselves hunted by Bennett throughout the Cross, a neon-lit area filled with sex clubs viewers of Underbelly: The Golden Mile will recognise but for the uninitiated feels like Soho twinned with Hell.
Ignore the clumsy title, X: Night of Vengeances is a slick genre movie with a compelling performance from Spartacus beauty Viva Bianca. Now that’s a fabulous name, Viva Bianca. Do not mistake this for a serious film about the sex industry. This is an urban fairytale with Shay as the girl who wanders from the path into the forest where the monsters live. It is a place filled with broken dreams. Everybody Shay meets is looking for a way out, hustling for money, prostituting themselves, or using other people for their own gain. Even the kindly young taxi driver (Eamon Farren) who forms a bond with Shay, and is noticeable for being the only sympathetic male character in the film, is working the night shift so he can earn enough money to fulfill his own dreams of escape.
Filmed on location in Sydneydirector of photography Mark Pugh makes great use of colour and there’s a tawdry cheap and nasty feel that recalls Ken Russell’s Crimes of Passion (1984). The screenplay by Hewitt and Belinda McClory is occasionally portentous and relies too much on coincidence but Hewitt keeps the action moving and with a length of 85 minutes X: Night of Vengeance never outstays its welcome.