Suburban Mayhem (2006)

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Released 13-Jun-2007

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Black Comedy Featurette-Making Of-A-Z of Suburban Mayhem
Audio Commentary-Director Paul Goldman, Writer Alice Bell, Producer Leah Chur
Featurette-The Receptionist Mockumentary
Featurette-What Is The Film About?
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Deleted Scenes-Blooper Reel
Deleted Scenes
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2006
Running Time 85:48
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Paul Goldman
Icon Entertainment Starring Emily Barclay
Michael Dorman
Robert Morgan
Anthony Hayes
Laurence Breuls
Steve Bastoni
Mia Wasikowska
Genevičve Lemon
Madeleine Jaine
Susan Prior
Stuart Spence
Alison Cox
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music Mick Harvey

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Suburban Mayhem is the third film from Australian director, Paul Goldman. It follows his very different 2003 film, The Night We Called It A Day and Australian Rules in 2002. The film is also quite an impressive debut for screenwriter, Alice Bell, who literally turns the tables on pleasant suburban conventions in this film.

   Suburban Mayhem opens with the funeral service of John Skinner (Robert Morgan). As we later discover, John was brutally murdered in his own home in a wicked act of betrayal. His daughter, Katrina (Emily Barclay) sits mournfully in the front row of the chapel wearing a tight mini skirt. She sniggers as she reads an incoming text message on her mobile phone, which incurs contemptuous looks from other mourners. This very dark and unsettling scene sets the premise of the entire film.

    From here, the narrative of Suburban Mayhem unfolds around a series of interviews within a "documentary" about John's murder and those involved in his life. The story leading up to the murder and its aftermath is launched from each of these segments and works quite well in revealing the plot.

    Katrina Skinner is a young single mother, living with her devoted father in working class, Newcastle. Katrina is highly sexed, self-obsessed and maliciously cruel. Even though she has a boyfriend, Rusty (Michael Dorman), she uses her heightened level of sexuality to lure gullible men in an effort to achieve any outcome she desires - in fact, she will use anyone for a purpose. All this puts her at odds with her father, who wants Katrina to take more responsibility in her life, find a job and take better care of her baby daughter, Bailee.

    Katrina charms a young and naive beautician, Lilya (Mia Wasikowska) and introduces her to the other side of clean living suburbia. She takes Lilya on a whirlwind introduction into a world of police confrontation, shoplifting and drugs. There is another purpose to this mismatched friendship though, Lilya has also been chosen by Katrina as an ideal babysitter for Bailee.

    At the crux of Katrina's very existence is an unhealthy obsession with her older brother, Danny (Laurence Breuls). Danny is serving a lengthy term in prison for the vicious murder of a convenience store attendant. She is consumed with getting enough money together to launch a legal appeal, which will hopefully have her brother released from prison much sooner than expected.

     John finally has enough of Katrina's irresponsible ways and announces that he is cutting off his financial support and taking custody of Bailee. In turn, Katrina sets in motion a most deceitful and malevolent plan. She seduces one of Danny's friends, Kenny (Anthony Hayes), who is also intellectually handicapped. Kenny instantly falls in love with Katrina and becomes a major player in her deadly plan. However, there is one element to her plan that even Katrina doesn't know about.

    Suburban Mayhem picked up twelve nominations at the 2006 AFI Awards, winning three of those awards for Best Lead Actress (Emily Barclay), Best Supporting Actor (Anthony Hayes) and Best Original Music Score (Mick Harvey).

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Transfer Quality


    Overall, the video transfer for Suburban Mayhem is very good.

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, which is 16x9 enhanced. I could not confirm the original aspect ratio, however it is likely to be 1.85:1.

    Suburban Mayhem uses video footage at times to convey the documentary narrative. This footage was shot on HD video stock, played back on a high-resolution monitor and then re-filmed off the monitor. Despite just the occasional hint of softness, overall the transfer exhibits a decent level of sharpness throughout. Blacks were clean and free from low-level-noise. Shadow detail was also excellent.

    Colours are vibrant, natural and nicely balanced. Colours in the video footage displayed a deliberate subdued appearance.

    There were no MPEG artefacts noticed. Film-to-video artefacts were well controlled and were insignificant. Film artefacts were non-existent.

    Unfortunately, there are no subtitles on this DVD.

    This is a single sided, dual layer disc. The layer change was very noticeable at 70:57.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio transfer for the film is also very good.

    There are three audio tracks available on this DVD. English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s), English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s) and English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s). All three tracks are excellent.

    Dialogue quality was outstanding throughout, even at low volume and audio sync appeared to be very accurate.

    The original music in the film is credited to Bad Seeds drummer, Mick Harvey. The soundtrack is predominately a mix of rebellious rock, which suits the mood of the film perfectly. The actress, Toni Collette receives a music credit for vocals on incidental music. The original music is combined with music from various rock bands including, Magic Dirt , Spazzys and Little Birdy .

    Without resorting to overkill, the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix delivers an excellent balance of directional sound and music across the surround channels. A fine example of a directional effect occurs with a screeching car doing a u-turn at 39:00.

    The subwoofer was constantly active, emphasizing bass elements in the sound design and the music.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There is an excellent selection of extras on the disc, which compliments the overall presentation.


    The menu is nicely themed with subtle animation. It features a music sample from the film and is 16x9 enhanced.

Audio Commentary - Paul Goldman (Director),  Leah Churchill-Brown (Producer) and Alice Bell (Writer ).

    This commentary is full of interesting and relevant information. All three speakers give tremendous insight into all aspects of the production. Many commentaries tend to become boring very quickly, but I found this held my attention from start to finish.

A - Z  of Suburban Mayhem - The Making of Featurette (27:32)

    A standard, but interesting "making of" documentary, which touches on most areas of the production. It features extensive input from a large number of cast and crew members and includes behind-the-scenes footage together with final cut footage.

The Receptionist Mockumentary (4:54)

    This humorous little piece was filmed by Alice Bell and features Alexandra Fletcher, who plays a small part in the film as the beauty salon receptionist.

What Is The Film About? - Cast & Crew Interviews (2:35)

    Cast and crew try their best to describe just what the film and the character of Katrina is all about.

Blooper Reels (7:02)

    A standard gathering of bloopers.

Deleted Scenes (14:25)

    An interesting collection of deleted and extended scenes that failed to make the final cut.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     At the time of writing this review, there is no R1 version of Suburban Mayhem available.


    Audience reaction to Suburban Mayhem is diverse - the subject matter alone guarantees that. The film is definitely confronting and at times, is downright disturbing. But, there is also an underlaying element of humour in the film, albeit, a very dark one. Suburban Mayhem is an audacious film. It is also clearly one of the best Australian films of 2006.

    The video and audio transfers are both very good.

    The selection of extras should please admirers of the film.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Friday, June 08, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDJVC XV-N412, using Component output
DisplayHitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationPanasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS
SpeakersFronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17

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