Screened as part of NZIFF 2014
A home invasion sets up a microcosm of volatile societal tensions in writer/director Paolo Rotondo’s arresting debut. Three homeless teenagers on the run escape to Waiheke Island and find themselves an empty deluxe holiday home to hide out in. It’s not immediately clear that they are siblings: Tibs (Hanelle Harris) is older sister and surrogate mother to 17 year-old Jesse (Jesse-James Rehu Pickery) and wild kid brother Kaenae (Calae Hignett Morgan). The party’s barely begun when the owner (Colin Moy) turns up and his uninvited guests knock him unconscious. As he revives, the balance of power shifts dramatically and the ensuing tussle takes on a distinctly psychological tenor. As they prod each other’s insecurities, the apparently childless man and the parentless children form their own makeshift, dysfunctional family. The kids’ performances bring life and energy to the well-considered schema of Rotondo’s script, with the youngest cast member delivering the most unnerving mix of boyish charm and raw aggression. Simon Raby’s rich-textured cinematography makes this latest product of the Film Commission’s low budget Escalator scheme look like it cost as much as the house on Waiheke.