X: NIGHT OF VENGEANCE
(director/writer: Jon Hewitt; screenwriter: Belinda McClory; cinematographer: Mark Pugh; editor: Cindy Clarkson; music: David Franzke; cast: Viva Bianca (Holly Rowe), Hanna Mangan-Lawrence (Shay Ryan), Peter Docker (Ligurian), Stephen Phillips (Bennett), Eamon Farren (Harry), Freya Tingley (Cindy), Wayne Blair (Bob), Darrin Moss (Giles), Belinda McClory (Katherine / Marilyn); Runtime: 99; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Lizzette Atkins; IFC Films; 2011-Australia)
“The seedy pic is long on raunchiness and short on credibility.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Aussie filmmaker Jon Hewitt (“Acolytes”/”Redball”/”Bloodlust”) directs and co-writes with actress Belinda McClory this irksome 1970s retro sex exploitation flick, about a high class thirty-year-old experienced Sydney hooker, Holly Rowe (Viva Bianca), who wants out and plans to retire in Paris but on her last night on the job runs into a violent incident that threatens her life. The seedy pic is long on raunchiness and short on credibility, and is a most unpleasant watch. It’s set in Sydney’s red-light district on Kings Cross.
It opens with Holly putting on an afternoon sex show with her creepy boyfriend Bennett (Stephen Phillips) in front of a group of society women sipping wine. Meanwhile penniless 17-year-old runaway Shay Ryan (Hanna Mangan-Lawrence) arrives by bus and immediately takes to the mean streets of Kings Cross to flag down a john for the first-time and ends up with a nasty older man making uncomfortable demands on her while she gives him a handjob in his car. After robbed and beaten by a pimp for working the spot of another hooker, Shay is the brunette the blonde Holly finds in the street and needs for a three-some with a regular drug-dealer client when her regular partner fails to show because of a shower accident. But the hotel room scene with the trick turns into a murder scene and the girls hide in the bathroom and flee the apartment in horror after witnessing it. They are hunted down by the vicious thug Bennett, Holly’s menacing boyfriend and sex partner, and corrupt cop (Peter Docker), the actual killer, and are subject to savage treatment by the brutes who fear they will report the crime. The only guy in the film that’s not rotten, the young cabbie and aspiring magician Harry (Eamon Farren), who acts as their protector and is the only one they trust.
The awkwardly made pic, jarring because it’s so jerky and unconvincing, moralizes about the dangers of prostitution, but that doesn’t stop it from showing gratuitous nudity and pointing out that by selling your body you can probably make enough dough to retire at a young age.
REVIEWED ON 2/20/2013 GRADE: C-