By Matthew Tilt
Aussie slasher What Goes Around, the debut feature from writer/director Sam Hamilton, must take place in some sort of terrifying dystopia, because it’s a world where the murder of several affluent teenagers is not investigated, where snuff films are not just available but easily accessible on social media and search engines.
Hamilton’s direction is uninspired but functional, however the script fails to effectively build the cast of characters beyond caricatures or create any real stakes throughout the story. It focuses on Erin (Catherine Morvell), an introverted university film student who is dealing with the effects of a traumatic experience.
Harbouring a crush on Alex (Jesse Bouma), Erin takes his laptop from the coffee shop where she works to fabricate a meeting with him. The two develop an instant connection, encouraged by Erin’s best friend Rachel (Gabrielle Pearson), but of course this is a horror film, so it doesn’t take long for people in Erin’s social circle to start dying.
Budget limitations hamper some of the death scenes and it would be unfair to criticise this. Film making is a difficult process and it is always impressive to see a feature seen through to completion. Valid complaints can be levelled at the writing, however; the reveal is obvious from the get-go so it’s hard to get behind the characters as they fumble for the clear answer.
What happened in Erin’s past does add some weight to proceedings, as well as some shaky justification for the film’s direction. Hamilton attempts to muddy the traditional morality of a slasher film, questioning Erin’s motivations as we reach the climax.
None of this is quite enough to save What Goes Around though, which may have been far more interesting if Hamilton had explored the murkier waters more thoroughly.