Reely Bernie Horror Fest: Nitram (2021)

“He was laughing at my pain…like it was the funniest thing in the world.”

Origin/Director: Australia/Justin Kurzel

Viewings Tally: Recommended on Letterboxd. This was my first viewing. Categorically, not a horror movie, but as a character study, this couldn’t be any more horrific.

Synopsis: Based on true events, “Nitram” lives with his parents in suburban Australia in the mid-90s. He lives a life of isolation and frustration at never fitting in. As his anger grows, he begins a slow descent into a nightmare that culminates in the most heinous of acts. [Letterboxd]

Reely Bernie’s Take:

Born into this. Evil begets evil. Bad seed. Blame the parents. Mental health ambiguities.

There isn’t a lot of context regarding the brooding behavior of our protagonist turned antagonist, and I suppose that makes the observant ordeal all the more daunting and perplexing.

As in Elephant (2003) and We Need to Talk about Kevin (2011), the task of trying to explain or even validate our violent youth and the heinous crimes they commit is superfluous. It’s like trying to diagnose the scorpion that stings and kills the frog that generously transported him across the river.

It’s in Nitram’s nature, I guess. And, there’s no relief in that whatsoever.

Nitram (Martin Bryant) and the Port Arthur Massacre really happened in 1996, and Director Justin Kurzel’s interpretation gracefully fringes on art out of atrocity and relaying an urgent message to the world.

The characters of the Martin Bryant family are fleshed out in a grueling, incestuous isolation. Dad (a heartrending and fatter Anthony LaPaglia) is in absolute denial about his son’s increasingly violent tendencies. Mum (probably Judy Davis’s finest performance in years) is further off — white-knuckling a resentment for her situation that is not only beyond hope but at peace for the worst outcome.

The worst outcome does come true, and yet Kurzel wisely omits the violence in place of character interaction, behavior approached, and behavior ignored.

At times, the atmosphere and eccentric personalities echo a darker Jesus’s Son (1999) vibe. There are even hints of Grey Gardens (1975). But, at the core, we are dealing with a fill-in-the-blank man child who harbors no sympathy, no empathy, and no remorse behind his sticky, long hippy hair. Caleb Landry Jones’s performance is horrifyingly rabid.

It is the exposé of Dirty Harry’s (1971) Scorpio killer. No good will come out of it.

If anything, Kurzel provides us with yet another reminder about the easy access the world has to assault weapons, and with people like Nitram behind the trigger, no good will come out of that either.

The Shot that Won’t Let Go:

Final Score: 4 psychoanalyses out of 5

For rent on Amazon Prime.

Happy Reely Bernie Horror Fest,


19 thoughts on “Reely Bernie Horror Fest: Nitram (2021)

Add yours

    1. Thanks, QFC. Yeah, those are tough flicks that offer no answers other than “we are never alone,” which can be promising in a way. Unless you like a deep, bleak character dive of a dark person, you might want to skip this one…


    1. I’ve heard of it and really want to. It’s only showing in a small theatre in north Denver. I might have to wait until it goes mainstream. Looks really good!

      Last night, I saw my fave of the year. Review coming tomorrow morning. (It was nice of the wife to let me escape for a flick.)

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Sounds…well good is not the word but really interesting. No parent would want to see or admit that so I can see that to a point.

    Hmmm “He was laughing at my pain…like it was the funniest thing in the world.”
    My wife says that about me! LOL of course not that kind of pain…a stubbed toe yea.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! Yeah, Max – this was a tough watch. One of those glad I saw it but wish I could unsee it at the same time type deals. The performances were stellar, and it really isn’t a horror genre and more a psycho thriller. But, still… like you said – no parent wants to see their kid go down this path.

      Hope all is well! I gotta shoot you an email soon and give you some cool news!

      Have a good evening 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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