When a 15 year old girl goes missing in a small country town resulting in the discovery of the work of a serial killer who do you call? Jane Halifax of course! Well actually, it’s Detective Eve Sergeant, but they’re both played by Rebecca Gibney and they both have the same kind of job.
Showing that the local police force in the fictional town of Mingara are a bunch of complete dimwits, Detective Inspector Lachlan McKenzie (Peter O’Brien) lures his old partner (professionally and romantically) Eve Winter to help him find the missing 15 year old Becky who disappeared after leaving a party and determine whether the case is linked to the five bodies recently found in a mass grave.
They are joined by Detective Senior Constable Bridget Anderson played by the impressive Chloé Boreham and Detective Senior Constable Dan Wild played by an underused Liam McIntyre and the four in their designer black suits stride into Mingara and immediately make an impact with the beer soaked and unpleasant residents of the small country town.
Without sugar coating it, the main issue with The Killing Field is that it feels like an over-extended weekly crime episodic show. It’s like we’ve just been thrown into a special movie length one-off where we have already established a relationship with Eve Winter and understand why she’s removed herself from field work, why she has to be lured back and know and care about her past relationship with Lachlan McKenzie. It’s this lack of lead character development that can feel somewhat jarring when it’s suddenly thrust at us the first time we meet Winter and McKenzie.
Of course, Gibney, cropped hair and business suits, plays as well as she can as the damaged Eve Winter. There’s a clinical and detached air about her that feels like an homage to DCI Jane Tennison (Helen Mirren, Prime Suspect) but sadly, Eve Winter, instead of presenting as a powerhouse authoritative figure instead comes off as slightly smug and self-righteous when interacting with potential suspects and Peter O’Brien…well, he’s there, but he’s given as much screen time as the supporting players and his Lachlan McKenzie only seems to be there to distract Eve with inappropriately timed flirtations.
But not all is lost. As a standard, run-of-the-mill police procedural, The Killing Field should offer enough to keep eyes on the screen until the shocking end. A small country town, a missing girl, a mass grave, mob mentality and a complete set of shady characters – enough to keep you guessing who the killer is until the reveal…it’s got the foundations just not the fortification.
Having watched enough Hannibal-Criminal Minds-CSI-SVU etc etc, The Killing Field aims high but falls short of the standard set by previous outings in the genre, but that said, I enjoyed what was offered to me and happily watched right to the end – even if some aspects of the characters and story lines were frustrating (a suspect is literally paraded around town in-front of local bogans resulting in a rather confronting situation) and it was good to watch Gibney finally shake off the warm and happy shackles of Julie Rafter.
And, there is talk that this movie will be used as a jumping off point for a new series (under a new title as The Killing Field refers to this particular case), which should fit this premise much better and allow for better character development and back story.
The Killing Field airs Sunday night, 8:40pm on Channel 7.