Animal Kingdom

Step up for a pulverizing Aussie crime drama that cuts to the dark heart of the killing machine known as family. Jacki Weaver sets the screen ablaze as Smurf, the bottle-blond mom from hell. Smurf's three sons, Pope (Ben Mendelsohn), Craig (Sullivan Stapleton) and Darren (Luke Ford), all do her murderous bidding. Now grandson Joshua (James Frecheville) slips into Smurf's corrupting fold. A good cop (Guy Pearce) goes up against Smurf's maternal malevolence. Fat chance. Writer-director David Michôd catches you in a vise and squeezes — hard.

From The Archives Issue 297: August 9, 1979